John Gaona, of Winkelman, Arizona, maintains a strong lead in the Resistol Rookie heading standings with $19,813.30 in season earnings as of Aug. 10, 2021. Gaona, who has a nearly $5,000 lead on the No. 2 man, Reno Stoebner, is heading for Trevor Nowlin, who is 19th in the PRCA World Standings with $36,596.25. Gaona is focusing on continuing his lead in the Resistol Rookie race, as well as getting his heeler qualified for what could be his first Wrangler NFR.
Kaitlin Gustave: You’ve held onto the No. 1 spot in the Resistol Rookie Standings for over two weeks now. Do you watch the standings?
John Gaona: I started looking at it. Trevor had told me that it was a big accomplishment to win it and he told me that I was winning it, so I’ve been looking quite a bit lately.
KG: You won and filled your permit at Rodeo Rapid City, your first-ever ProRodeo. What would winning a Resistol Rookie title mean for you and your career?
JG: It would be a dream come true to be able to win it for my first year rodeoing.
KG: You are also 42nd in the PRCA World Standings. There’s still a lot of summer left, but how are you feeling about the World Standings?
JG: I have a little bit. I’ve been looking at Trevor’s mainly. I’m trying to get him to the Finals. That’s my main goal right now.
KG: What’s it like being on the road for the first time?
JG: It’s fun. It’s really fun to meet people that you’ve idolized your whole life. It’s really nice to be living the dream.
KG: This is a dream come true, right?
JG: It is. It’s awesome to be able to do this. I wouldn’t be able to do this without Daniel and Elaine—Trevor’s parents. They help me so much.
KG: The last time we talked was at the beginning of the season, when you won Rodeo Rapid City. How has it been since that big win?
JG: It was kind of downhill for a while and then it started coming back up. It’s been up and down.
KG: How are you mentally and how has your roping been?
JG: Mentally, I’m just trying to improve myself. My roping has been off and on.
KG: What are you trying to improve?
JG: I’m trying to focus on riding a lot more and less throwing. I’m trying to set my partner up for a better shot.
KG: Is it challenging to keep your heading sharp on the road?
JG: We were home a couple days ago and got to practice, but it’s hard when you’re out here. It’s a lot different. I’m used to practicing every day. You can’t just go back and go practice and improve yourself.
KG: What about horsepower? What do you have to head on?
JG: Both of them are Trevor Nowlin’s. I have a roan (Ferrari) and a gray horse (Smoke Wagon) that I ride. If it’s a longer start, I’ll use the gray and, if it’s shorter, I’ll use the roan.
KG: Is there anyone you go to for help?
JG: I usually call my brother, Steven Gaona. I’ll send him videos and stuff and he tells me what I did wrong and what I should be improving on.
KG: What’s the best part about being on the road?
JG: Mine and Trevor’s bond. We’re like brothers. It’s a lot easier when you’re roping with your brother. It’s pretty easy to haul with each other.