Johnson is back in the groove

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DODGE CITY, Kan. – Several things in his life have carried Chet Johnson away from the game he loves over the past few years.

In 2014, his sister, Tracy, died unexpectedly, and the cowboy needed to be in Wyoming with family. Last year, a nagging injury kept him on the sidelines. For the saddle bronc rider with four qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, he longed for a return to “normalcy” of the sport: bucking horses, buddies and all-night drives.

ChetJohnson“A few years ago, my sister passed away, so I stayed at home a lot that year,” said Johnson, 35, of Douglas, Wyo. “Coming into this (possibly) being the third year of not being able to do much, I just really wanted to start riding good again, get in a groove.”

He’s found it and showcased it Thursday night during the second performance of Dodge City Roundup Rodeo with an 84.5-point ride on Frontier Rodeo’s Griz for a share of the lead with traveling partner Clay Elliott of Nanton, Alberta.

“They win a lot of money on that Frontier horse,” Johnson said of Griz. “He gets bucked quite a bit, but he’s always a money horse. He’s yours to screw up. He’s going to give you every chance there is and give you a chance to show off how you want to ride. He’s a lot of fun, and you can’t ask for anything more.”

The past couple of years have been anything but fun. This season is different; he sits 19th in the world standings with $35,037 in earnings. He needs to finish the regular season among the top 15 to return to Las Vegas for the fifth time.

“This year I took a different approach and got my knee fixed,” he said, noting that he competed in Billings, Mont., last fall, then opted for surgery; he returned to ProRodeo in February. “I got heeled up. My whole approach was just (to) just get on the good (horses) and just go to the rodeos I want to go to.

“I’ve only been to 33 rodeos this year. It’s a good schedule for me, because it keeps me from getting sore, and I’m enjoying it. A lot of people are getting burned out now, and I’m getting geared up.”

Evan Jayne
Evan Jayne

Bareback rider Evan Jayne of Marseille, France, is one of those who is feeling sluggish at this stage of the rodeo season. He is eighth in the standings with more than $57,000.

“I’m just happy to be in the pack right now,” said Jayne, who last year became the first European-born cowboy to qualify for the NFR. “I need to secure another $15,000 to be really secure (for a return to the NFR).”

He sits tied for the lead in bareback riding after his 83-point ride Thursday night on Frontier’s Short Night, matching the same score earned by Blake Smith on Wednesday. Jayne knows he will return to western Kansas for Sunday’s championship round, where he will have an opportunity to get closer to that magical dollar figure.

“I’m a little tired of being on the road, and I’ve got a little one back home,” he said. “I’m ready to be back home with her.

“The better I do at the rodeos right now, the faster I get to be in my little girl’s arms.”

Those types of priorities are important, especially in a game that takes cowboys and cowgirls away from their families for weeks, even months, at a time. But there’s a passion in rodeo that is unmatched in other professional sports.

Sometimes that passion is sitting atop bucking horses one night at a time and enjoying the ride. For Johnson, he’d like to earn the Roundup championship at least one time in his career.

“It would be a dream come true,” he said. “Dodge City is one of those bucket-list type of rodeos, where everyone wants to win it. It’s got such a history to it, and it’s an icon in the sport. To put that notch on your belt is a huge one.”

Both Jayne and Johnson will have that opportunity on Sunday night.

Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Dodge City, Kan.
Aug. 3-7
Bareback riding leaders:
1. Evan Jayne, on Fronteir Rodeo’s Short Night, and Blake Smith, on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Hot Valley, 83 points; 3. Jordan Pelton, 82; 4. Joel Schlegel  77; 5. George Gillespie, 75; 6. Kody Lamb, 73; 7. (tie) Colt Kitaif and Teddy Athan, 72; 9. Caine Riddle, 71; 10. Troy Vaira, 68; 11. Will Martin, 64; 12. Logan Patterson, 61.

Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Shane Frey, 4.2 seconds; 2. Kyle Whitaker, 4.3; 3. Trever Nelson, 4.5; 4. (tie) Aaron Vosler, Jacob Talley and Jace Melvin, 4.6; 7. Jake Johnson, 5.0; 8. (tie) Tooter Silver and Logan Gledhill, 5.3. Second round leaders: 1. Jacob Edler, 4.2 seconds; 2. Aaron Vosler, 4.3; 3. (tie) Jacob Talley, Kyle Whitaker, Dan Barner and Matt Reeves, 4.8; 7. Cody Doescher, 5.0; 8. John Franzen, 5.3. Average leaders: 1. Aaron Vosler, 8.9 seconds on two runs; 2. Kyle Whitaker, 9.1; 3. Jacob Talley, 9.4; 4. Shane Frey, 9.9; 5. Cody Doescher, 10.5; 6. J.D. Struxness, 11.1; 7. Jake Johnson, 12.1; 8. Cody Kroul, 12.5; 9. Trever Nelson, 12.6; 10. Tooter Silver, 13.2; 11. (tie) Jace Melvin and Tom Littell, 15.1.

Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, 4.7 seconds; 2. Colby Lovell/Travis Graves, 4.9; 3. Billy Bob Brown/Logan Medlin, 5.1; 4. Coleman Proctor/Billie Jack Saebens, 5.3; 5. (tie) Cale Markham/Cody Doescher, Kolton Schmidt/Shay Carroll, 5.6; 7. Nathan McWhorter/Dustin Davis, 5.7; 8. Garrett Tonozzi/Wyatt Cox, 5.8. Second round leaders: 1. Coleman Proctor/Billie Jack Saebens, 5.4 seconds; 2. Joshua Torres/Jonathan Torres, 5.8; 3. Kolton Schmidt/Shay Carroll, 6.3; 4. Cale Markham/Cody Doescher, 7.1; 5. Miles Baker/Dustin Searcy, 7.7; 6. Peyton Holliday/Clay Casper, 8.4; Nathan McWhorter/Dustin Davis, 11.4; 8. Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, 11.8. Average leaders: 1. Coleman Proctor/Billie Jack Saebens, 10.7 seconds on two runs; 2. Kolton Schmidt/Shay Carroll, 11.9; 3. Cale Markham/Cody Doescher, 12.7; 4. Joshua Torres/Jonathan Torres, 13.1; 5. Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, 16.5; 6. Nathan McWhorter/Dustin Davis, 17.1; 7. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 32.3; 8. Colby Lovell/Travis Graves, 4.9 seconds on one run; 9. Billy Bob Brown/Logan Medlin, 5.1; 10.Garrett Tonozzi/Wyatt Cox, 5.8; 11.Jake Pancost/Chase Boekhaus, 6.7; 12. Miles Baker/Dustin Searcy, 7.7.

Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Chet Johnson, on Frontier Rodeo’s Griz, and Clay Elliott, on Frontier Rodeo’s Miss Ellie, 84.5 points; 2. (tie) Taos Muncy and Audy Reed, 83.5; 5. Clay Stremler, 82.5; 6. Shade Etbauer, 81.5; 7. Zeke Thurston, 80.5; 8. Luke Butterfield, 77.5; 9. Louie Brunson, 77; 10. (tie) Colt Gordon and Sam Haraper, 75; 12. Layton Green, 74.

Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Marcos Costa, 8.4 seconds; 2. Trell Etbauer, 8.8; 3. Tylen Layton, 9.0; 4. (tie) Cheyenne Harper and Blane Cox, 9.2; 6. Cory Solomon, 9.3; 7. Jerome Schneeberger, 9.4; 8. (tie) Cade Swor, Riley Pruitt and Quay Howard, 9.6. Second round leaders: 1. Cory Solomon, 7.9 seconds; 2. (tie) Sterling Smith and RileyPruitt, 8.2; 4. William Whayne Jr., 8.4; 5. Lane Jeffrey, 8.5; 6. Kelsey Garrison, 8.6; 7. Kody Mahaffey, 8.8; 8. Cimarron Boardman, 9.1. Average leaders: 1. Cory Solomon, 17.2 seconds on two runs; 2. Riley Pruitt, 17.8; 3. Kelsey Garrison, 18.8; 4. Marcos Costa, 18.9; 5. Trell Etbauer, 19.0; 6. Blane Cox, 19.2; 7. (tie) J.D. Kibbe, Kody Mahaffey and L.D. Meier, 19.3; 10. Cimarron Boardman, 19.7; 11. Quay Howard, 20.8; 12. Landon McClaugherty, 21.1.

Barrel racing: First round leaders: 1. Loni Lester, 17.10 seconds; 2. Paige Willis, 17.15; 3. Emily Miller, 17.21; 4. Ari-Anna Flynn, 17.32; 5. Jana Griemsman, 17.4; 6. Nicole Laurence, 17.43; 7. Carol Waters, 17.45; 8. Taylor Langdon, 17.47; 9. Pamela Capper, 17.53; 10. Kelly Schnaufer, 17.55. Second round leaders: 1. Ari-Anna Flynn, 17.17; 2. Hailey Kinsel, 17.25; 3. Taylor Langdon, 17.26; 4. Edi Williams, 17.29; 5. Kelley Schnaufer, 17.30; 6. Carol Waters, 17.36; 7. Nicole Riggle, 17.37; 8. Jana Griemsman, 17.39; 9. Katie Garen, 17.40; 10. Paige Willis, 17.45. Average leaders: 1. Ari-Anna Fly, 34.49 seconds on two runs 2. Paige Willis, 34.60; 3. Loni Lester, 34.70; 4. Taylor Langdon, 34.73; 5. Jana Griemsman, 34.79; 6. Carol Waters, 34.81; 7. Emily Miller, 34.84; 8. Kelley Schnaufer, 34.85; 9. Nicole Riggle, 34.95; 10. Hailey Kinsel, 35.00; 11. Edi Williams, 35.05; 12. Lorie Manning, 35.14.

Bull riding leaders: 1. Nate Perry, 85.5 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Boom Boom; 2. Jordan Spears, 84.5; 3. Tyler Smith, 83; 4. (tie) Joe Frost and Dalan Duncan, 81; 6. Rorey Maier, 80; 7. Rocky McDonald, 76.5; 8. Aaron Russell Williams, 76; 9. Ednei Caminhas, 71; no other qualified rides.


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