J.R. Stratford became the youngest winner of the all-around KPRA Bull Riding Award last month. The high school student also won Rookie of the Year honors.
At age 16, Skyline High School sophomore J. R. Stratford of Byers made Kansas rodeo history last weekend at the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association (KPRA) Finals at the Dodge City Roundup Arena. He became the youngest competitor ever to win the KPRA Bull Riding Award.
The state rodeo finals ran Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, drawing an estimated crowd of 1,000 to watch the about 150 cowboys and cowgirls in action, vying for honors.
J.R.’s father, Steve Stratford, said J.R. was the youngest winner in KPRA history to win and he was also awarded “Rookie of the Year” honors.
“I’ve been riding all sea- son for my rodeo friend, Landon Smith, who died in a car wreck last January 10,” J.R. said. “That makes this award very special to me as an honor to Landon.”
Along with his dad, J.R.’s grandparents, Jim and Joyce Stratford of Pratt, were in the crowd watching as J.R. rode three bulls in the finals event on Sunday.
“I was right there, yelling and screaming for him,” Joyce said.
In the Sunday afternoon competition, J.R. won on two of his three bull rides.
“The last bull, Shipwreck, had never been ridden for eight seconds in his whole life and I rode him for 82 points to win the third round and clinch the year-end title,” J. R. said. “He was a pretty big bull, probably about 1,700 pounds.”
J.R. received a commemorative black satin jacket as an award to go along with five silver belt buckles he was presented at the event.
Stratford’s sponsors are Pratt Livestock, Kinsley Feed Yard, Colorado Premium Beef and Tri-Star Proteins (both Wichita), VITAZINE (Butler, MO), and Stratford Angus.