J.C. Mortensen to make Mile High PBR debut Saturday at Findlay Toyota Center
Leader in Turquoise Circuit’s all-around standings off to strong start as pro
PRESCOTT VALLEY — Rodeo is in J.C. Mortensen’s blood, and he’s been waiting with bated breath for this moment since he was a youngster.
At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, 18-year-old J.C. Mortensen of Paulden will realize a dream when he enters the chutes for the first time at the annual Mile High Professional Bull Riders (PBR) event at Findlay Toyota Center.
When the fireworks go off and flames shoot up from the floor to open the PBR in the 5,000-seat arena, the riders’ adrenaline will start to flow.
“This is a great event, and it has been for a bunch of years,” Mortensen said in a phone interview April 25. “And to finally be old enough to ride in it and compete for the big money is awesome. I’ve been looking up to it ever since I was little. Being able to watch the best bull riders when I was younger was cool enough – seeing some of my heroes on TV.”
J.C.’s father, former pro bull rider and longtime Mile High PBR promoter Judd Mortensen, and his mother, Annie Mortensen, will be looking on with his maternal grandfather, PRCA Hall of Fame bareback rider/Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo general manager J.C. Trujillo, and other VIPs who have helped him along the way.
Mortensen said Trujillo taught him everything he knows about bareback riding, an event in which he also excels. And Judd Mortensen, a four-time National Finals qualifier, did the same for him in bull riding.
“I’ve got a bunch of family that’s going to be in the stands – and it’s probably going to be most of my family and friends watching me that I’ve ever had,” Mortensen said. “That’s really what’s gotten me here [the help from my grandfather and father].”
Mortensen, a polite, mild-mannered young man who will graduate from Chino Valley High School in May, has gotten a head start on a promising pro career in bull riding and bareback riding. He has already ridden in five Turquoise Circuit rodeos (in Arizona and New Mexico) in 2019, earning a total of some $8,000.
Currently, Mortensen leads the all-around standings (competitors in two or more events) in the Turquoise Circuit and he’s confident that he can ride with the best of them at the Mile High event.
“I’ve been going to rodeos about every weekend, and it’s my job right now,” Mortensen said. “I’ve made enough money, luckily, to be able to keep going. The more mature I get, the more bulls I get on, I’ll be able to keep winning more money and bigger rodeos, and, hopefully, make this my career.”
On Saturday, Mortensen plans to ride a young bull owned by bull rider Dustin Danley, who’s known for the quality of his bucking bulls. In the short go-around, watch for a bull named Stage Fright, owned by Windy Valley Buckers near Paulden, which appeared in the PBR Finals last year, Mortensen said.
“With this event, if you ride two bulls with two good scores, you’re probably going to win it,” he added.
Mexican champion Juan Carlos Contreras is among the stronger pro cowboys riding on Saturday, Mortensen said.
“He’s famous all over Mexico and the pride of Mexico right now,” he added.
After turning 18 in October, Mortensen won the first PRCA rodeo he competed in and rode in his first PBR competition in Jackson, Tennessee, the Cody Nance Invitational, in November. He placed second in Jackson after tallying a 90-point ride on a bull named Gray Squirrel in the long go-around.
It was an impressive finish in Jackson that helped garner him enough points to turn in his pro rodeo permit for a pro rodeo card. Armed with his card, a whole new world opened to Mortensen – he could begin competing at PBR events around the country.
In July, Mortensen said he will enter the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo, where he will realize yet another dream. He’ll compete in the bareback bronc riding and the bull riding, where his grandfather runs the show.
“The ‘World’s Oldest Rodeo’ in our hometown – there’s no way I’d miss that,” he added.
For more information about the Mile High PBR, which is part of the PBR’s Touring Pro Division of up-and-coming bull riders, visit: findlaytoyotacenter.com/events/mile-high-pbr-professional-bull-riders. You can order tickets from that site.
Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.