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Clark hopes for finals berth

Sports writer

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Jesse Clark didn’t have the kind of performance he was hoping for on Saturday night.

Clark posted a so-so time of 13.7 seconds in calf roping, also called tiedown roping, in the Pioneer Days PRCA Rodeo at the Curry County Events Center.

“It’s a circuit rodeo,” he said of the Turquoise Circuit, encompassing New Mexico and Arizona. “You have to go to so many of them to be able to go to the circuit finals (in August at Las Cruces).”

link Staff photo: Kevin Wilson

Jesse Clark of Portales ropes his calf Saturday at the Pioneer Days PRCA rodeo at the Curry County Events Center.

Still, he has bigger fish to fry than that.

Right now, he’s in good shape when it comes to potentially qualifying for the PRCA National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. He off to a good start and currently ranks fifth in the event, needing to finish in the top 15 to make it to the NFR in December.

“This year’s been great,” Clark said. “I’ve won about $30,000.”

Clark was home-schooled in high school at Dora, and is now one credit short of graduating from Eastern New Mexico University. An agriculture business major, he plans to get that done online this summer.

He was a state qualifier in rodeo all four years for Dora High, making it to the high school national finals three times, and competed all four years at ENMU.

Clark, who turned 22 on Monday, eased into the PRCA circuit, going to a couple of events three years ago before expanding his schedule. He’s had his PRCA card for two years.

Needless to say, it’s been a step up at the PRCA level.

“It’s a lot more difficult,” he said. “You have all the top guys in that. If you don’t get better, you don’t win.”

link Staff photo: Kevin Wilson

Cody Taton of Rapid City, South Dakota, scores an 83 on his saddle bronc ride Saturday at the Pioneer Days PRCA rodeo at the Curry County Events Center.

Clark will hit the road quite a bit over the next couple of months. He’s scheduled to compete next weekend at Weatherford, Texas, and has events coming up in Reno, Nev., and in North Dakota.

Clark started young in the sport, and wants to compete in it for the love of it and as a means of income for as long as possible.

“Hopefully, I can do it for quite a while,” he said. “I plan to keep on going as long as I’m able to compete.”