story by Lindsay Humphrey “Not a lot of people know that I have a step-dad,” said 17-year-old Savannah Wilson from Midland, Texas. “He came into […]
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Meet the Member Mason Rust & Kutter Johnson
story by Lily Weinacht
Mason Rust of Gordon, Texas, and Kutter Johnson of Levelland, Texas, are the 2018 AJRA World Team Roping Champions. The title is their first in the AJRA, and because of it, they will be roping on the largest stage of their careers thus far when they back into the box at The American Semi-Finals in February. “The AJRA always has good steers, and they run a good rodeo. We qualified through the AJRA, but paid an extra $150, and whoever had the most points at the end of the year in that pool of people got to go to The American Semi-Finals,” explains 18-year-old Kutter, the heeler. “I’ve always wanted to rope there, and I’m glad we’re going to have a chance.”
The pair of ropers have been friends since they were young children, playing together at cutting shows while their parents competed, then rodeoing together once they were old enough. “We try to team rope together everywhere—we know what’s going to happen with each other,” says 17-year-old Mason, the header. He and Kutter qualified for the NJHFR together in 2016, and also rope in the THSRA, USTRC, World Series of Team Roping, and jackpots. Mason also enters the tie-down roping and cutting in high school rodeos, but team roping is where he devotes most of his time. “I really started liking roping and going to youth rodeos, and when I was 14, I cut my thumb off heeling, and things changed up for me. I really got devoted to roping, and I craved it and loved it ever since. I think that God planned that for me because He knew it was going to make me work harder—it was an investment.” Even through setbacks with other injuries, Mason’s drive for the sport continues. “When I win or I do well, it makes me want to do it more and more, and keep getting better.
Kutter grew up working cows with his dad, Clay Johnson, who worked on a ranch, and finds similar motivation in strengthening his roping skills with every season. “I just love rodeoing and roping so much—I can’t imagine never doing it,” says Kutter, who’s currently working for Shank Edwards in Levelland, Texas, while rodeoing with Mason’s family. “My dad helps me out a lot, and so does my uncle, Clint Johnson.” Kutter’s grandfather, Mike Johnson, also roped, and he and Kutter’s dad both rode Afro Man, the horse that carried Kutter to the AJRA world title last season. He also rode Sugar for much of the AJRA season, who is owned by Mason’s grandfather, Robert Rust.
Kutter rode Mason’s good calf horse, Zoom, for some of the AJRA season as well, while Mason does most of his team roping off a former cutting horse he calls Chuckie. “He’s out of Ms Mimosa and by High Brow CD, and he was shown in the NCHA Futurity as a 3-year-old and kind of called it quits after that,” says Mason. “My dad let me start roping on him, and we learned team roping at the same time. He knows what I’m fixing to do, and I know what he’s going to do, so that makes it a lot easier.” Mason and his parents, Wade and Shannon Rust, and his younger brother, Payden, travel to all of the AJRA rodeos together with Kutter. “My parents are my role models—they’ve helped me learn to rope and disciplined me—and to be more like Jesus is my main goal,” says Mason.
He and Kutter both do school from home or on the road. Kutter, a senior, started online school at the beginning of the semester and enjoys his government class, while Mason, a junior, attends Whitehorse Christian Academy. He goes to the school campus two days a week and studies chemistry, one of his favorite classes, during that time, while he does the rest of his studies from home.
Both Kutter and Mason plan to rodeo in the AJRA together another season, and Kutter plans to purchase his PRCA permit in the near future. “My main goal is to make the NFR, and making The American is my main goal this season,” he says. Mason adds, “I’d like to be better in my calf roping and team roping. I’d like to be pro rodeoing by the time I’m out of college, and just be the best that I can be.”