In January 2011, some friends of mine were heading to the National Western Stock Show Rodeo in Denver, and their little cowboy, Cade, wanted to meet some big cowboys.
I looked at the roster of contestants who would be competing at the Denver Coliseum that performance to see if any of my friends could help this little rodeo fan live to be a lifetime rodeo fan. When I saw the name of Chet Johnson, I knew my search had ended. Chet and two of his great friends and awesome cowboys, Cort Scheer and world champion Chad Ferley, met with Cade Hemphill and his family before the rodeo that day.
On Saturday night, Johnson picked up one of the biggest wins of his career, clinching the saddle bronc riding title at the San Antonio Stock Show Rodeo with an 86-point ride on Calgary Stampede’s Knight Rocket. In all, Johnson won $19,077, third most of all competitors. That will put him in the top 10 in the world standings.
More importantly, it’s another win for a cowboy who suffered a serious injury less than two years ago, when he was kicked in the back of the head by a bucking horse near Salt Lake City. He sustained three skull fractures, bleeding and swelling on the brain and a fractured right eardrum. He came back to rodeo less than six months later.
Chet is a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, and I look for him to return to that stage soon. He hasn’t played there since 2008, but the good guys always make a comeback.
2012 San Antonio Stock Show Rodeo champions
Bareback Riding – Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb., $17,030
Steer Wrestling – Ethen Thouvenell, Napa, Calif., $17,112
Team Roping – Nick Sartain, Dover, Okla., header, $19,323
Team Roping – Kollin VonAhn, Durant, Okla., heeler, $19,323|
Saddle Bronc Riding – Chet Johnson, Sheridan, Wyo., $19,077
Tie-Down Roping – Justin Maass, Giddings, Texas, $17,358
Women’s Barrel Race – Angie Meadors, Blanchard, Okla., $18,340
Bull Riding – Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas, $16,475