By Susan Kanode/for the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo
FORT WORTH, Texas — It’s been five years since Mike Johnson last qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in tie-down roping, but if he keeps roping like he did at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo on Jan. 30, it’s not going to be six.
Johnson has been one of the most consistent ropers in the history of the sport with 23 NFR qualifications to his credit. The first time he roped at rodeo’s championship event was in 1983, before many of his current crop of rivals were even born.
In the first round, held during slack, he roped and tied his calf in 8.8 seconds, just out of the money, where it took an 8.7 to place. He came back in the second round with a 9.9 and now leads the overall standings with 18.7 seconds on two head. He is three-tenths ahead of the man in second place, Glenn Glasper.
A star-studded field of barrel racers saw the 2012 world champion Mary Walker, from Ennis, Texas, move into a tie for first place in the first round with a time of 16.52 seconds. This matches Cheyenne Kelly, from Hallettsville, Texas, who ran during the second performance. Walker is coming off a win at the National Western Stock Show Rodeo in Denver.
Fallon Taylor, from Whitesboro, Texas, and Lisa Lockhart, from Oelrichs, S.D., are both Wrangler NFR qualifiers who moved among the leaders here as well. Taylor is now fifth with a time of 16.66 seconds and Lockhart is right behind her with a 16.68-second run.
These times may not earn them checks with several performances left in the first round, however, they will be among the top 70 that qualify for the progressive round.
The World’s Original Indoor Rodeo continues Friday, Jan. 31, with performances at 2 and 7:30 p.m. (CT) at Will Rogers Coliseum.