Johnson Eyes Repeat as North Platte Champion

by Jim Bainbridge | Jun 17, 2016
By Ruth Nicolaus/for the Buffalo Bill Rodeo committee

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. – Chet Johnson is working on his second Buffalo Bill Rodeo championship buckle.

The Lusk, Wyo. cowboy has the high score in the saddle bronc riding after two nights of the rodeo in North Platte, after completing an 84-point ride aboard Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Painted Desert.

He was happy when he learned that he had drawn that horse, an 18-year-old mare.

“I’ve been wanting to get on that horse for quite a while,” he said. “He’s one of the older ones of Bennie’s, and he’s been good for years. I drew him here, and have been excited all week when I found out what I had.”

Painted Desert stalled a bit before leaving the chute, but it all worked out.

“He didn’t want to leave the chutes real bad,” Johnson said. “It took him a few seconds to get going. Once he realized what was going on, he did his thing, and was as good as he could be.”

Johnson won last year’s Buffalo Bill Rodeo with an 86-point ride, and he’s hoping to repeat the feat. “This is a very tough rodeo, so to win it back to back, it would be quite an achievement.” But there are two more nights of rodeo, and Johnson knows his first-place score might not hold.

“You get all the tough guys (saddle bronc riders) here, and the horses are really good, so you get a combination of high scores. That’s what everybody needs, and why everybody wants to be here, trying to get that buckle.”

Johnson, who is 35 years old, has spent a month at his family’s ranch north of Lusk, but is about to rodeo harder. A veteran of the rodeo world, he knows when to take it easy.

“I’ve been just taking it real easy, trying not to burn myself out. From here on out, I’m going to rodeo real hard and try to get back” to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

He has competed at the WNFR four times (2005, 2007-08 and 2013). During the winters, he stays at his home in Stephenville, Texas, but in the summers heads to the family ranch.

“It’s about time to migrate north. It’s getting a little toasty (in Texas).”

Other leaders from Thursday’s slack and performance are bareback rider Justin Miller, Billings, Mont. (83 points); steer wrestler Timmy Sparing, Helena, Mont. (3.5 seconds) and tie-down roper Michael Otero, Lowndesboro, Ala. (8.2 seconds). There was a two-way tie in the team roping with Nick Sartain, Dover, Okla./Gage Williams, Foster, Okla., and Adam Rose, Willard, Mo./Walt Woodard, Stephenville, Texas, each completing 6.1-second runs. Barrel racer Sabra O’Quinn, Ocala, Fla., had the fastest time for the day (17.86 seconds) and bull rider Cole Elshere led with a 79.

It was Tough Enough to Wear Pink night at the rodeo, and three cancer survivors – Jan Rickertson, Gothenburg; Lisa Mullen, Paxton; and Diane Adkins, Ogallala – were honored. All three got treatment at the Callahan Cancer Center at Great Plains Health in North Platte.

Night number three of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo takes place on Friday, June 17 at the Wild West Arena in North Platte. Tickets are available online at, at the NLD office or at the gate.

Courtesy of PRCA