GUYMON, Okla. – In his heart, Josh Frost is not just a bull rider; he’s a cowboy.
That’s why his two Linderman Awards are as cherished as any trophy he’s ever won; in order to win one, cowboys must compete in at least three events and be on both the timed-event and roughstock sides of the arena.
He earned his first Linderman in 2019, then followed up with another this past season, earning more than $135,000 over the regular season in three events: bull riding, tie-down roping and steer wrestling.
Oh, but it was just a precursor to how he finished the 2021 campaign. For the second time, he earned a bull riding qualification to the National Finals Rodeo, where he followed that by winning the 10-ride aggregate title, the second most valued honor in ProRodeo behind the world championship.
“It was a great year,” said Frost, an Oklahoma Panhandle State University graduate who plans to return to the region for the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 8, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.
“I went to 125 rodeos during the season, and I went to the finals sitting fifth. That was the highest I’d gone into the finals. I had more 90-point rides than I’d ever had before, and I won more rodeos than I’d ever won.”
He parlayed it into a fantastic run at the NFR. He placed in six go-rounds, winning the final night with a 92.5-point ride, and earned $233,160 while in Las Vegas. He finished second in the standings with nearly $365,000 yet behind his traveling partner, seven-time world champion Sage Kimzey. It was, by far, his best season in the PRCA.
“Winning the average is a huge deal,” said Frost, a four-time qualifier for the College National Finals Rodeo (three in bull riding, one in steer wrestling). “If you can’t be the world champion, being the NFR average champion is the next best thing. You’re there for 10 days, getting on 10 of the rankest bulls in the world and going against the top 15 guys in the world.
“Coming out No. 1 in the average through all that is a huge accomplishment. Momentum is big in bull riding, especially at the finals. You’re getting on the rankest bulls in the world every night, so it can be really easy to get in a slump there. It’s great to bounce back from a buckoff and continue winning.”
Frost rode more bulls in Las Vegas than any other cowboy, which is how he claimed the average crown. What’s bigger is that each time he rode, he placed. In go-round payouts, he pocketed more than $150,000. That’s very impressive. He earned the most out of the seven cowboys with ties to the Panhandle region that had qualified for the NFR.
Frost was joined by three others who competed at Panhandle State, bareback rider Orin Larsen and saddle bronc riders Dawson Hay and Spencer Wright. The other three were bareback rider Cole Franks, who was born in Guymon; steer wrestler Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas; and Wyatt Casper, who finished high school in Balko.
All but Devers – who suffered a torn pectoral in the opening round of the NFR – are expected to compete in Guymon come the opening weekend of May; Devers hopes to return to action by mid-June.
“It’s always awesome to come back to Guymon,” Frost said. “It was always cool during college, because it would be the week right before you got out of school, and the college rodeo was always the weekend before. It’s always exciting. It’s the first weekend in May, and the weather’s usually getting better. You always get on great stock there, and it’s a great rodeo.”
It’s also nice to return to Texas County and visit with the people who have supported him since he first arrived on campus in 2013. He is one of three Panhandle State cowboys to have earned the Linderman Award – Goodwell-raised Trell Etbauer is a four-time winner, while Frost’s brother, Joe, won the Linderman in 2014.
“The Linderman Award means a lot to me, and it’s a big goal of mine,” Josh Frost said. “It really ties to the Panhandle. One of the reasons I went to college at Panhandle was because they excel in roughstock events and timed events. It’s great having my name up there with Joe and Trell.
“I recommend Panhandle to anybody looking at college, especially college rodeo. You get to experience rodeo and the cowboy atmosphere. The support from the community and the college is great, because they make it a priority. Any time you need a sponsorship, it’s very easy to get help from external resources. It’s why the rodeo program has been so successful through the years.”
For Frost, the dual focus of rodeo and classwork was the perfect fit as he sought rodeo dreams and earning an education. As an intercollegiate cowboy, he competed in four events at all 10 rodeos on the Panhandle State schedule each season. It’s what’s provided a drive for excellence as he makes a significant living in the sport he loves.
“A regular week of school for me was pretty busy between going to class, roping calves every day, wrestling steers and going to other practices,” said Frost, who was No. 1 in the bull riding world standings as of Feb. 14. “One thing about (coach) Robert Etbauer; it doesn’t matter what event you’re doing, as long as you put out the effort, he’s going to be out there cheering you on.”
That’s a pretty good reflection of everyone who lives and works in the Oklahoma Panhandle.