John Gaona, of Winkelman, Arizona, finished the 2021 ProRodeo regular season at the top of the Resistol Rookie heading standings with $26,871.83 in season earnings to take home the coveted Resistol Rookie Header of the Year award.
“It’s just an exciting accomplishment to be able to win it and be able to compete and do the best that I could,” Gaona said.
Gaona finished inside the top 50 in the PRCA World Standings, sitting 43rd. Though the young header accomplished his main goal for the season, he had hoped to finish with a higher catch percentage.
“The last month was pretty stressful. I didn’t do very good. It was a long month,” he said. “I felt like I could have spun a lot more steers. I just had a hard time and couldn't click the way we needed to the end of the year.”
Fortunately for Gaona, he had his partner Trevor Nowlin, brother, and fellow PRCA header Pedro Egurrola in his corner to help him push through the trials of ProRodeoing.
“There were times where I couldn’t catch and it really frustrated me,” Gaona said. “I just felt like I should give up. Trevor, my brother and Pedro talked to me about what I could do better and helped me figure out what I was doing wrong.”
Gaona has instilled the advice he’s received and the learning curves that he’s faced in 2021 to help him better prepare for the 2022 rodeo season.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot more of what I’ve got to do in different setups. I’m kind of excited for the new year.”
With the 2022 ProRodeo season having started, Gaona and Nowlin kick-started their year with a win at the Southern New Mexico Pro Rodeo with a 4.4-second run early in October.
“It was a great feeling to be able to win the first official rodeo that we went to for the year. I threw a lot and it got there somehow. My first thought was to get back to the horn.”