LAS VEGAS – Sometimes just getting through is a good thing.
Take Chet Johnson on Friday night during the second round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The Sheridan, Wyo., cowboy rode C5 Rodeo’s Biff for 74 points, pocketing $3,005 in the process.
“I had one of the weaker horses in the pen, which is not always a bad thing in the eliminator pen,” Johnson said, referring to the toughest-to-ride horses in this year’s NFR. “Just getting a check and getting two ridden is always a big relief.”
Yes it is. In fact, most of the bronc riders in the field failed to score an eight-second qualifying ride. Of the 15 cowboys in the mix at ProRoeo’s championship event, only six earned scores.
Most importantly for Johnson, he’s ridden both broncs he’s attempted to ride and has collected $4,006 in the process. While that’s a long ways from the top of the heap – traveling partner Cort Scheer has won nearly $26,000 in two nights – it is important for Johnson to continue to ride well.
“I’m pretty happy with it,” said Johnson, who credits his sponsorship with Wyoming Tourism and Rodeo Austin as keys to his fourth NFR qualification. “It’s good to get two checks. I really want to get something going. Obviously I’d like to be placing higher, but I’ll take this. I feel good, but I just don’t believe I’ve had the best chances. Hopefully I’ll get to placing higher here pretty quickly.”
Staying on is important, too. In addition to go-round winners earning $18,630 each night, the top 10-ride cumulative score will claim the coveted NFR average title and a check worth nearly $48,000. Since the rodeo season ended more than two months ago, several of the top cowboys have taken time away from the rodeo arena to get themselves ready. Johnson went about things another way, competing in the Canadian Finals Rodeo the second weekend in November.
He’s in good riding shape as he handles the rigors of the 10-round title bout. It has helped, especially after Johnson’s first horse of the rodeo had a bad start and fouled the Wyoming cowboy, hitting Johnson’s leg on the chute gate and dumping him to the dirt. He was rewarded a second chance on another horse and finished the first round in a tie for sixth place.
“That horse hit me pretty good on the gate, so I was a little sore,” Johnson said. “We’re staying at the Monte Carlo, and they’ve taken good care of us. We try to go to the spa every day to take care of the body.”
As long as it works, Johnson will hit the spa every day. He’s got eight more chances to make a significant living in Las Vegas, so it’s well worth it.