Justin Johnson, a junior a Suwannee High School, placed second in the United States Team Roping Championship (USTRC) National Finals at Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City Oct. 22-29. Ropers from all across the country, including Hawaii, as well as Canada, Mexico, even Australia, made the trip to compete for more than $4 million in cash and prizes. This is the team roping event of the year for every caliber of roper to find their “A” game and make a run at part of the huge payouts and prizes. Several team ropers from this area have made the trip to the USTRC National Finals in Oklahoma and have left their mark every year. Scott Elliott, J.D. Elliott, Dale Ratliff, Wade Thomas, Arky Rogers and Clint Summers, just to name a few.

This was Justin Johnson’s third year competing at the USTRC National Finals. However, it was his first big win at the finals. Johnson had a total of six changes to win and one of those was with his Dad, UPS driver Jay Johnson, who is a number five header and Justin is a number seven heeler so they roped in the number 12 shootout. “I really wanted to win with my dad, but I roped a leg on all three steers, totaling 38.03 which 15 seconds of that was in penalties for roping three legs, and we were too long to make it to the short go,” said Johnson. However, Johnson entered the USTRC number 12 Preliminary Roping with his Georgia High School Rodeo friend, Joseph Podskoc, and they placed fourth overall, roping steers in 35.03 receiving $9,300, Gist Trophy Bits, $1,500 for wining a fast time in round number two and a number 12 USTRC shootout position to rope for a grand prize of $100,000.

The number 12 shootout was held first thing on TOct. 24 with close to 400 gems entered. Podskoc and Johnson were team No. 357 so they didn’t get to rope until later on in the day but when they did rope the announcer said, “You have a total time of 23.92 on three steers, call home boys because you are the second high team back for a chance to win $100,000.” Only the top 20 teams on three head make it back for the short round and all 20 win money. The high team back was from Arizona and they were 23.58 seconds on three head. The short go starts at team No. 20 and goes up to team number one with loud music and the USTRC announcer letting each team know what time they need to be in order to take over the lead. When it finally got to the second high team of Podskoc and Johnson, the announcer stated, “All this Georgia and Florida team have to do is make a 9.02 seconds run to take over the lead and a chance to win no less than $55,600.” When Podskoc spoke for the steer the music vibrated throughout the coliseum and the clock stopped at a smooth 8.38 seconds, taking over the lead with 32.30 seconds on four head. The No. one team of Clark and Beatty from Arizona needed an 8.72 to tie and an 8.71 to take over the lead of the number 12 shootout. The clock stopped at 8.66 seconds with a 32.24 on four head winning $100,000 by .06 seconds. Podskoc and Johnson took home $55, 600 and Gist Trophy Reserve Champion Buckles.

Johnson, 17, an honor student at Suwannee High, is dual-enrolled at North Florida Community College. He is student president of the Florida High School Rodeo Association where he competes in team roping and calf roping. Johnson also serves as vice president of Suwannee Senior FFA Chapter at SHS where he competes in Extemporaneous Public Speaking, Parliamentary Procedure and horse judging. He adheres to a straightforward approach to everything he does. “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing to the best of my ability,” Johnson says.

For more information, go to www.USTRC.com.

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