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Johnson gets lucky to take roping lead at Ponoka Stampede

There’s a saying that ‘you have to be good to be lucky, and lucky to be good’. Chad Johnson demonstrated a bit of both during the second round of action at the 78th Annual Ponoka Stampede.

The Del Bonita roper had to do a little fishing with his rope Thursday afternoon, but it worked and he finished up the catch in 8.8 seconds, to take the overall lead in the tie-down roping.

“I kind of missed the calf, actually, and I let it sit on his head, and it dropped over his nose,” explained Johnson. “It was pretty lucky, actually.”

Ropes don’t always behave in a user’s hand, and there’s no real cause for a wayward loop like Johnson had.

“It’s kind of like throwing a strike. Sometimes you throw a strike, sometimes you throw a ball. Today I threw a ball, but the umpire called it a strike,” chuckled Johnson.

Johnson had made a solid run in the morning slack in 8.7 seconds, so his consistency paid off.

“My horse has been phenomenal here. He worked really good.”

Meantime, Innisfail’s Kirk Robinson had the fast time of the afternoon session with his run of eight seconds flat.

“I thought I had a good calf,” said Robinson. “I was pretty good on the barrier. If I’d have been any closer, I probably would’ve broke it.”

The tricky timing of the long score cost Robinson a chance at coming back for the Finals, since he missed his morning calf. But even go-round cash could help boost his fortunes this season.

After a shutout in the bull riding on opening night, there were three scores Thursday in Ponoka. Best of the bunch came from Jesse Flett. The Fort Vermilion cowboy got a second bull, after his first jumped around and clicked the latch open before Flett was ready.

He quickly strapped his bull rope on the Vold bull Pirate Style.

“I knew he was a good bull, and he just came out and into my hand. It was fun,” stated Flett.

“I started out my year good, then had to sit out with a groin injury, but I’m coming back, just trying to make the CFR. I’ve been having tough luck, so this is a good place to start to turn things around. I haven’t had much luck here (in Ponoka), so it’s good to finally get one down.”

Steven Dent of Nebraska rode Kesler’s Nickels and Dimes to 84.75 points in the saddle bronc event, to slide into second behind leader Taos Muncy with his 86 mark.

Utah’s Caleb Bennett had the best bareback ride of the afternoon, with an 85 on Street Dance. He sits third, behind Bobby Mote of Texas and his 85.75.

Nebraska’s Dru Melvin came close to fast man Lee Graves in the steer wrestling. But his total of 12.0 was just a tenth behind Graves’ 11.9.

Colorado barrel racer Kim Schulze moved into third place, with Mary Walker still fastest with her 17.487.

The duo of Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler remain frontrunners in the team roping with their 13.7 second run Wednesday.

Wyatt Gleeson of Sundre leads novice bareback, Tyler Kampjes of Sturgeon County leads novice saddle bronc and Nick Tetz of Calgary is on top in steer riding.

After an unscheduled weekend off, the 2014 WPCA Pro Tour resumed Thursday night with the first leg of chuckwagon racing’s unofficial “Triple Crown” at one of one of chuckwagon racing’s biggest and most prestigious events – the Ponoka Stampede.

Weather and track conditions were excellent, and it was an entertaining evening of racing for the Ponoka Stampede fans. Former Ponoka Stampede and reigning World Champion Chuckwagon Driver Rick Fraser opened up the 2014 Ponoka Stampede with the fast time of the night with a 1:15.40.

Coming off barrel number 4 in the 6th heat, Fraser — driving the Northwell Oilfield Hauling Inc. outfit — placed first on the night by a mere 7 one-hundredths of a second over former Colonial Days Champion Layne MacGillivray. Former Ponoka Stampede champions Jason Glass and Kelly Sutherland placed third and fourth respectively, with Kurt Bensmiller rounding out the top five for the night.

The Ponoka Stampede Rodeo continues this afternoon at 1:00 pm, with the races tonight at 6:30 pm.



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