BISMARCK, N.D. – Kansas City Outlaws head coach J.W. Hart ran up to Marcus Mast following the Outlaws’ 177-0 victory over the Nashville Stampede Friday night at the Dakota Community Bank & Trust PBR Team Series Preseason Event to pat his rider on the stomach and give him a celebratory high five.
Only two months ago, Mast had a much larger waistline when Hart called him with a proposition.
At the time, Mast had yet to be approached by any PBR Teams with the 2022 PBR Team Series Draft, presented by ZipRecruiter, a month away. Mast figured his chances of being drafted or even joining a team as a free agent were likely slim.
Hart wanted to know how much Mast weighed.
Mast responded: “178 pounds.”
Hart then paused before posing his next question.
“I’m not calling you fat by any means,” Mast recalled Hart saying. “I think you’re in good shape, but would you be opposed to losing 20-25 pounds if you got to? I’d like you to be 150-155. I think 155 is acceptable. I think I can work with you like that.”
Mast agreed, and he knew that if he did his part, there would be a good chance Hart would decide to sign him as a free agent or possibly even draft him.
Therefore, Mast reached out to a personal trainer Hart recommended, and he began running four miles daily. And not just jogging. Mast says he was “running scared,” terrified he would lose out on the chance of a lifetime. At one point, he even ran a personal-best nine miles in a day.
Mast completely changed his diet, too. The 27-year-old got rid of the carbs and fatty foods and took a page out of 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis’, chowing down on a diet featuring plenty of chicken and vegetables. If Mast were out on the road at an event, he would try to get a chicken wrap at Subway or a chicken sandwich when out with his friends.
Hart and Texas coach Cody Lambert told Davis he was overweight in 2015, and that conversation led to Davis transforming his physique and becoming a World Champion.
That same year, Hart lost 20 pounds in four months when he unretired for one night to compete at his Unfinished Business pay-per-view event bull riding.
Now Mast is trying to make his own evolution.
That dedication and discipline paid off as Mast walked into the Bismarck Events Center on Friday night as a member of the Outlaws and 23 pounds lighter.
“Ever since I’ve been working out for this, ever since he talked with me, I’ve had a major life-changing moment,” Mast said. “It’s been a life-changing journey, but it’s been an emotional journey, too, just to see how awesome of a guy we have as a coach and what we can do. I get chills on my arms just talking about it because I haven’t just slimmed down. I’ve changed as a person, too, doing this. It’s made me better as a human, not just helping in my bull riding. It’s helped me as far as a human being as well. And I get so fired up about stuff like this. I don’t know if you could ever get more fired up I am. I don’t know how you get more fired up about it than what I’ve been the last while. I could not be more fired up about it.”
The now-155-pounder helped propel the Outlaws to victory with his 87.5-point ride on WSM’s Sun Country. 2019 Rookie of the Year Dalton Kasel was the only other KC rider to hit the 8-second mark, riding WSM’s Nasty Wishes for a night-high 89.5 points.
Hart explained that he didn’t bother asking Mast to send him any photos or proof that he lost weight when he signed him as a free agent a few weeks ago.
Instead, Hart took Mast for his word, and when Mast showed up for the Outlaws’ training camp this past Monday, Hart was stunned.
“I never laid eyes on him until he walked into training camp Monday, and I didn’t recognize him,” Hart said.
Kansas City’s host PBR Team Series event – Outlaw Days – is set for Aug. 5-7 in Kansas City. Mast could look like a prime rider to help the Outlaws find early success.
Kasel said he and the rest of the riders on Kansas City were also stunned when they saw Mast walk in this week.
“We knew he had been working hard, and man, he looked good on practice bulls,” Kasel said. “But tonight, he looked freaking great.”
12-time Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger said on Friday night, “When Marcus came to Deadwood last week, I joked when he first showed up at the PBR, he looked like a bulldogger, and now he looks like a bull rider.”
Mast is only one immediate example, but Hart is stressing physical conditioning and nutrition to all of his riders.
It was a major emphasis during training camp.
“They worked out hard, and we had a nutritionist come in and help everybody with diet plans if they need it,” Hart said. “They’ve all set diet plans, all set workout regimens. They all contact him three days a week. It’s good. We had a really good camp. A bunch of chemistry made. That’s what we wanted.
“We put them through one hell of a workout and then put them right on bulls. We put them through a little physical grind to try to find out how they work under pressure, under soreness, under fatigue, under stress. And we didn’t have nobody fail.”
Mast has goals to lose even more weight for the PBR Team Series, and he hopes to get closer to 150 pounds sooner rather than later.
For now, he is happy to prove that he was committed to losing the weight and that he can be an impact rider for the Outlaws with the season-opener coming up on July 25-26 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“Oh man, that was very, very important for me,” Mast said. “That was kind of the main monkey on my back, was, ‘I’ve got to make this first one count.’ I’ve got to make them all count, but this first one was really important.”
KANSAS CITY TO FACE OKLAHOMA SATURDAY WITH CHANCE TO PURSUE EVENT TITLE
The Outlaws will square off against the Oklahoma Freedom on Saturday night. The Freedom defeated the Austin Gamblers 260-172 on Friday.
Saturday, June 18 (8:30 p.m. ET on RidePass on Pluto TV)
Arizona Ridge Riders (0-1) vs. Texas Rattlers (0-1)
Carolina Cowboys (1-0) vs. Missouri Thunder (1-0)
Kansas City Outlaws (1-0) vs. Oklahoma Freedom (1-0)
Austin Gamblers (0-1) vs. Nashville Stampede (0-1)
Following the four games, a Bonus Round will take place. Each team will select one rider to attempt to ride one more bull. This rider does not have to be one of the five riders who competed earlier in his team’s respective games and instead can be an alternate (bench) rider.
The overall event-winning team in Bismarck will be the team with the best overall win-loss record. In the event of a tie in the event standings, a team’s bonus points will be the first tiebreaker. If there is still a tie, the second tiebreaker will be the team’s total aggregate score from its two games. The next and final tiebreaker will be combined buckoff time from a team’s games.
Based on Saturday’s game schedule, the winners of the Carolina vs. Missouri and Kansas City vs. Oklahoma games will compete for the Bismarck overall event title in the Bonus Round, as the winners of each game will be 2-0.
The preseason does not affect the PBR Team Series championship race and standings. These games are strictly exhibitions for the eight teams to prepare for the upcoming season.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media