The new partnership of Jake Barnes, right, and Jhett Johnson is off to a great start at the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo. Barnes and Johnson have earned checks in the first two rounds and lead the three-head average. Photo by Ted Harbin
GUYMON, Okla. â€“ The opening night of the 80th annual Pioneer Days Rodeo on May 4 was a showcase of the sportâ€™s best.
Six world champions took the lead in their respective events at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena, led by a couple from 2011 â€“ bareback rider Kaycee Feild and team roping heeler Jhett Johnson.
Feild matched moves with Carr ProRodeoâ€™s Cool Change for 86 points to carry the lead heading into the three weekend performances set for 2 and 7:30 p.m. on May 5 and 2 p.m. on May 6.
Johnson teamed with seven-time world champion header Jake Barnes of Scottsdale, Ariz., to lead the three-head average with a total time of 21.8 seconds. While they posted an 8.7-second run on Friday night, theyâ€™ve already earned $2,274 by placing in the first two go-rounds during slack. â€śThis is our first rodeo together,â€ť said Johnson, who won his first Montana Silversmiths gold buckle last season while roping with Turtle Powell. â€śI guess, with a little luck, hopefully weâ€™ll win it.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s always fun to come to Guymon, going to school here (at Oklahoma Panhandle State University), being one of the alumni and all that. I know the area real well. I know the people and the people putting on the rodeo. Then to come here and do well is always a good deal.â€ť
Besides Barnes, Feild and Johnson, the other world champions who took the lead on May 4 were barrel racer Sherry Cervi of Marana, Ariz.; saddle bronc rider Jesse Kruse of Great Falls, Mont.; and bull rider Dustin Elliott of North Platte, Neb.
Cervi, a three-time world champion who placed second in the opening go-round on Friday morning, rounded the cloverleaf pattern in 17.25 seconds in the evening performance to take the lead. Kruse, who won the gold buckle in 2009, rode Carrâ€™s Corner Guard for 85 points. Elliott, the 2004 champion, matched moves with Carrâ€™s Charlieâ€™s Bandito for 82 points.
â€śYou couldnâ€™t ask for one any better than that bull,â€ť Elliott said. â€śHeâ€™s just a good bull. Heâ€™s just what you enter for. There was only one bull out that a guy really didnâ€™t want to get on.â€ť