Meet the Member Jace James
story by Lindsay Humphrey At just 11 years old, Jace James has his sights set on redemption at the upcoming AJRA finals. He finished as […]
story by Lily Weinacht
Max Mathis of Ben Wheeler, Texas, is entering his second season in the AJRA. Last year he competed in team roping, tie-down roping, and breakaway roping, and this year, the 15-year-old moved up an age division and is entering the steer wrestling, tie-down roping, and team roping as a header. “I just really like how the rodeos are run. I’ve got some good friends out there, and the calves and the cattle are good,” says Max.
He competes in the same events in the THSRA Region 4 and the CTYRA, and won the tie-down roping at the San Antonio Youth Rodeo this winter. Starting with his regional finals at the end of March until the AJRA NFR at the end of July, Max reckons he’ll be on the road every weekend. He often travels with his mom, Chantay Mathis, or his brother-in-law, Jeff Odom, who’s married to Max’s sister Morgan. Max saw much of the rodeo trail even before he started competing, traveling with his dad, Chad Mathis, who is a professional steer roper. Being familiar with the larger rodeos and traveling served Max well when he made his debut at the NJHFR last year in tie-down roping and chute dogging. He placed second in the average in the tie-down roping, while he placed fourth in the short-go in chute dogging.
Of his three events, tie-down roping is easily Max’s favorite. “I’ve got a good horse this year and we’re doing good, and I’ve worked at it more,” he explains. Max’s brother-in-law hazes for him and they practice together at least four days a week. “We rope every night, and when my dad gets off work, he’ll head or heel or trip steers. I’ve entered a few Lone Star steer ropings — I started tripping about a year ago.” Max also practices with his team roping partners from the AJRA and high school rodeo, Chisum Allen and Grant Gilbreath, and he’s hauled with steer wrestling expert Butch Myers and worked with professional tie-down roper Jerrad Hofstetter. “I was going to a bunch of Ultimate Calf Ropings and I met Butch and we started hauling to all those ropings, and Jerrad has helped me a bunch. The horse I’m riding now I bought from Jerrad, and we go up there every three or four months and rope with him.”
Max bought his calf horse, Bam, from Jerrad last winter. “Shane Hanchey has a horse called Bam Bam, and the way my horse stops reminds me of him. He’s real easy to get along with, and he does the same thing every time. My dad was in Pendleton one year and he bought a horse we call Duke from a friend. We knew he was going to be good, but we didn’t know how good, and over the last few years he’s been doing really good. I just bought a steer wrestling horse, Tyrone, a few weeks ago from Cole Barringer, and I was 3.8 the first time I ran him at a high school rodeo.”
Just this year, Max switched to homeschooling so he can keep up with school on the road, and have more time to rope and even take in outside horses. He enjoys all kinds of history, and also shows cattle in 4-H. “My sister Macee helps me out, and I really like spending time with her and hanging out. My heifer won her class at Fort Worth this year,” says Max, who also enjoys going to the lake or golfing with his family. He’ll even travel to Las Vegas this December to compete in the Junior NFR, which he was invited to by Roy Cooper.
“I would like to win the AJ’s this year, and I would like to make it to Nationals again this year,” he finishes. “I’d like to do good at Shawnee (IFYR) and the Best of the Best this year, and I want to give a thank you to Van Zandt County 4-H and Tommy Phillips for all of their help.”
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