NE team catches team roping title in Hastings
Two Nebraska cowboys teamed up to win the team roping title at the 24th annual Oregon Trail Rodeo in Hastings.
Tucker White, a student at Hastings College, and Jeff Johnston, Thedford, were the last team to run on Sunday night, and their time of 5.8 seconds was the fastest time of the weekend to win the championship.
White, who is 22, and Johnston, age 41, have just started roping together this summer. White normally ropes with his high school-age brother, Cooper, and Johnston with O’Neill, Nebraska’s Riley Wakefield, who just graduated from high school. When Cooper and Wakefield aren’t around, Tucker heels for Johnston, who is the header.
White, who is in his second year of PRCA membership and has competed for the Hastings College rodeo team, has benefited greatly by roping with the veteran. “He’s a legend in our area, he’s won so much,” he said of Johnston. “He knows how to win anywhere he goes. It’s really an honor just to get to rope with him.”
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Johnston has qualified nine times for the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeos, and three times for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeos. He also is a multiple finals contender in area amateur rodeo associations, including the Nebraska State Rodeo Association and the Mid-States Rodeo Association.
“It’s a mental thing and an experience thing,” White said of Johnston’s knowledge. “He’s been everywhere. Like tonight, he knew we had to be faster than a 6.6 (second run), but he didn’t throw to be four (seconds). He took a smart shot and that’s why I love roping with him.”
White’s check for winning the Hastings rodeo was $1,223 and provided him his first pro rodeo earnings. “This is the first (PRCA) rodeo I’ve capitalized and won money at, and it feels good to do it in front of a hometown crowd.”
While two Cornhusker cowboys worked together to win their championship, a two-time world champion saddle bronc rider teamed up with a veteran horse.
Cody Wright, Milford, Utah, rode the Korkow Rodeos horse Queenie for 83 points and the saddle bronc riding win.
The nineteen year old mare was raised by the Korkows and began her rodeo life as a bareback horse, then was switched over to the saddle bronc riding. She has been selected to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) at least a dozen times, Jim Korkow estimated.
Wright travels with his son, Rusty, and his brother, Spencer, who is the 2014 world champion saddle bronc rider. They keep him young and excited to hit the road, and with one month left in the rodeo season, the Wrights will compete at as many rodeos as possible. Cody didn’t begin his rodeo year till June, after sitting out due to shoulder surgery last December. He’s ranked twenty-fourth in the world standings, nine holes out of the top fifteen who qualify for the WNFR in December. “I’ve got quite a bit of ground to make up,” he said. The trio will compete at a rodeo nearly every day through September 30, but Rusty and Spencer’s youth helps. “It’s a lot of fun, traveling with these guys,” said Cody, who is 38. “They like to stay up all night, and I like to go to bed early. They drive most of the night, and I try to get up for that bad shift when the sun is coming up, because I’m all rested up.”
Rusty Wright, last year’s Resistol Rookie of the Year, is currently ranked second in the world standings, and Spencer is in the tenth hole.
Jim Korkow and his son T.J. tried to retire their horse Queenie last year, but it didn’t work. “She wants to go rodeo,” Jim said. “It’s in her blood. She’s loving it and can still do it. She just proved it tonight. She’s the first in the trailer when it’s time to load up to go to a rodeo.” Queenie has had several colts who have also been selected to buck at the WNFR.
Other champions at this year’s Oregon Trail Rodeo are Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas (bareback riding), Clint Kindred, Oral, S.D. (tie-down roping), J.D. Struxness, Appleton, Minn. (steer wrestling), Cheryl Wallace, Broken Bow, Neb. (barrel racing), and Pistol Robinson, Coolidge, Texas (bull riding). Johnston, who competed in the steer wrestling as well as the team roping, won the all-around title.
The 2015 Miss Oregon Trail Rodeo queen was crowned prior to the Sunday performance. Lindsey Hinrichs, Glenvil, Neb., won the crown and the title. She is the 19-year-old daughter of Bryan and Teresa Hinrichs.
The 25th annual Oregon Trail Rodeo will be Aug. 26-28, 2016. For more information, visit the fairgrounds website at AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com. For complete results, visit ProRodeo.com. F
–Oregon Trail Rodeo
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