John Franzen wears denim shirts. It’s a family thing, he said, but it’s also a tribute.
That’s a family thing, too.
Franzen held it all tight to his chest Saturday night at the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo, where he posted a 3.6-second run to win the second round of steer wrestling the championship. More importantly, his 7.7-second cumulative time on two runs was best in the field of 24 bulldoggers. In all, he has earned $11,517.
“I knew I had a good steer, and I knew what I needed to do,” said Franzen, a third-generation rodeo cowboy whose family is also providing stock at the DNCFR. “I told myself I wasn’t going to lay off the barrier. I had to go after it.”
That he did. After finishing third in the opening round with a 4.1, he knew he had some room to move. Besides, he’s living his dream in the world of rodeo, and he’s carrying on a legacy left behind by his cousin, A.J. Franzen, who died Dec. 18 in an automobile wreck. A.J. Franzen was 26 years old.
“Me and him were going to travel together this year,” said John Franzen, son of Hank Franzen, owner of Powder River Rodeo Co. and co-owner of D&H Cattle Co. “He’s one of my heroes.”
That denim shirt displays A.J.’s brand, a symbol John is proud to wear. But he’s just as proud to be part of the DNCFR competition for the first time in his career.
“I’ve worked six of these events when it was at Pocatello (Idaho), and I’m flanking our bulls,” he said. “It’s pretty cool being able to be in the competition and work the rodeo, too. I’d sure like to do that at the National Finals Rodeo, too.”
The most important part of Franzen’s victories were his qualification to the semifinals, which begin at 1 p.m. Sunday. The top eight contestants in each event advance to a clean-slate round. The top four from the semifinals advance to the finals, and the contestant with the best score or time will be crowned national champion.
Other round winners were bareback rider Clint Cannon, Waller, Texas, 84 points on Kesler Championship’s Alley Trail, $4,525; tie-down roper Hunter Herrin, Apache, Okla., 8.1 seconds, $4,525; team ropers Casper May, Pryor Creek, Okla./Derrick Peterson, Stillwell, Kan., 4.8 seconds, $4,525; barrel racer Nancy Hunter, Neola, Utah, 15.31 seconds, $4,525; saddle bronc rider Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, 85 points on Beutler & Son’s High Trails, $4,525; and bull rider Tater Hins, Huron, S.D., 84 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Black Gold, $4,525.
Other average winners were bareback rider Kaycee Feild, Payson, Utah, 162 points on two head, $4,525; tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett, Summerville, Ga., 17.0 seconds on two head, $4,525; team ropers Charly Crawford, Prineville, Ore./Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore., 11.9 seconds on two head, $4,525; barrel racers Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., and Tana Renick, Kingston, Okla., 30.77 seconds on two runs, $3,976; saddle bronc rider Wright, 165 points on two head, $4,525; and bull rider Seth Glause, Rock Springs, Wyo., 88 points on one head, $4,525.