After just missing out on the 20212 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo after finishing the regular season 18th in the PRCA World standings, 2020 PRCA World Champion Colby Lovell joined forces with Trey Johnson at the WCRA Cowtown Christmas Championship Rodeo, winning the third perf with a smooth run of 5.54 seconds to advance to the Showdown Round.
“We had a little advantage being last out,” Lovell noted of the $1,600 win. “We knew what we had to be [to advance] and we knew we just needed to go catch our steer and make a clean run...which can sometimes be the hardest thing to do.”
Two teams moved on to Saturday’s big money round from each performance here at the historic Cowtown Coliseum and, despite a lineup of top talent, the Friday performance was falling apart by the time Lovell and Johnson backed into the tight little boxes at Cowtown.
In fact, only Tanner Green and Whit Kitchens had made a penalty free run, stopping the clock at 8.40 seconds, by the time Lovell and Johnson took their turn.
“It’s a small arena and everything needs to play down the middle,”Lovell commented, referring to the narrow arena that often sees headers getting wadded up in the left fence after turning their steers. “It’s about your timing and both the header and heeler need to have time to do your job.”
Lovell and Johnson played it cool, making a clean move across the line. In the field, the pair of veterans make a solid, practice pen run to secure their spot in the next round.
Johnson is a WCRA regular, making the Gold Medal Round at the last WCRA Major, the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games in Salt Lake City in July. The minister and team roping clinician isn’t a rodeo road warrior but was a great pickup for Lovell.
“We just got together,” Lovell noted. “My usual partner is Paul [Eaves with whom he captured the World title at the Wrangler NFR in Arlington last year].”
“He had shoulder surgery so both Trey and I needed a run here,” Lovell continued. “I’ve known Trey a long time. He’s a great guy and ropes good.”
“Everything worked out great tonight.”
For Green, he kept his Triple Crown of Rodeo $1 million bonus hopes alive; the Triple Crown Bonus is available to any athlete who wins three WCRA Majors in a row. Green captured the win at the last WCRA Major in Salt Lake — he will be one step closer to the $1 million should he win the Cowtown Christmas Championship on Saturday.
Bareback rider Clayton Biglow and breakaway roper Tacy Kay Webb are the only other contestants still in the running for the Triple Crown of Rodeo bonus.
As for Lovell, he had to do a little fast talking to borrow seven-year old daughter Jewel’s horse Money for the night.
“He’s my little girl’s horse. We bought him at a roping school in Missouri that Paul and I put on,” Lovell said. “Honestly, he’s kind of a unicorn.”
Money has carried several of Lovell’s friends to wins as well as packing Jewel for her roping endeavors.
“Cody Johnson won his first buckle on him,” Lovell said. “My little girl heeled for me before the NFR last year when I was getting ready. He’s really good and solid.”
“He’s one size fits all and those are hard to find.”
Calling her “very talented,” Lovell says that Jewel for sure knows what she’s got.
“She needs a finger on me when I take Money,” he joked. She missed Friday night to go to a barrel race with her mom. “She keeps an eye on the horses.”
Jewel may be in the stands on Saturday night when her daddy ropes for his second career WCRA Major title. The Showdown Round features the top two from each of the three qualfiying perfs along with WCRA Leaderboard number ones, and newly crowned PRCA World Champs, Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira. The top three from the Showdown Round will rope again in the sudden death Triple Crown Round for the event title and winner’s purse of $12,500.
“We just need to go do our jobs,” Lovell said of strategy. “We need to catch the steer and remember that we’re in a competition with the cow and no one else. Make sure we catch and hope for the best.”