LAS VEGAS – Through two go-rounds of the 2011 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, only three cowboys were having a better run than team ropers Jhett Johnson and Turtle Powell.
Bareback rider Kaycee Field and tie-down roper Cody Ohl won each of the first two nights and have earned $35,769. Steer wrestler Trevor Knowles split the first-round victory, then won the second round outright, pocketing nearly $34,000 in the process.
Powell, a header from Stephenville, Texas, and Johnson, a heeler from Casper, Wyo., have scored two straight ties for second place in the opening two nights of ProRodeo’s grand finale. That means they’ve earned $24,808 for just 8.5 seconds of work.
This is what the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is all about. Cowboys and cowgirls work all year in order to qualify for this 10-round spectacle in the Nevada desert. There is $6 million up for grabs in the eight disciplines. What’s more important is that dollars not only pay bills, but also are championship points. The contestant with the most money won in each event is crowned world champion.
How big is the tandem’s start? Powell entered the NFR No. 13 in the world standings, while Johnson was 12th. They have moved to fourth in their respective money lists. Not only that, but they’re tied for fourth place in the shot for a new pickup through the Ram Truck Top Gun Award, given to the contestant who earns the most money at this year’s finals.
Johnson, who displays his home-state pride in outstanding fashion by promoting Wyoming Tourism all across the country while on the rodeo trail and at ProRodeo’s championship event, is a father of three boys with his wife, Jenny. Jhett Johnson attended both Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva and Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell on rodeo scholarships – he earned a degree in psychology.
He minored in rodeo, and that’s worked out pretty well so far for the five-time NFR qualifier.