Jhett Johnson is one of the best heelers in team roping, a four-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
He’s also a friend.
On Friday night before the American Royal Rodeo in Kansas City, we got to visit for a few minutes before he and his partner, Turtle Powell, made their second run inside Kemper Arena. It was good to catch up.
I met Jhett through my lovely wife, Lynette, who went to college with the Wyoming cowboy at Panhandle State in Goodwell, Okla. He’s a family man – he and wife Jenny have three sons, Kress, Carson and Kellan – but he’s also a rodeo cowboy who makes his living on the road.
That’s the tough juggling act. This year, Jhett followed a routine that had worked fine for him in the past, taking time off the rodeo trail. But he finished this season No. 20 in the world standings, five spots out of the championship in Las Vegas.
“I won’t do that again,” he said. “My wife told me, ‘If you’re going to rodeo, rodeo.’ ”
It’s hard to be away from loved ones for such a long time. The rodeo trail winds a long ways from the house, and sometimes it means being gone from loved ones for weeks at a time. But Johnson doesn’t plan to take that path too much longer.
His wife’s words of encouragement were for Jhett Johnson to chase gold-buckle dreams while he can. She and their boys will be there when he gets off that rugged road.