“It’s so cool to me that talented ropers of every kind—guys out on the full-time rodeo trail, circuit cowboys, high school and college kids—have the chance to compete at the highest level for big money. The WCRA will keep moving forward, because it’s a great opportunity and it makes sense. There’s no down side to this deal.”

~ Kory Koontz


GUTHRIE, Oklahoma—At 18, Carson Johnson’s roping-career party is just getting started. At the other end of the age and experience spectrum is fellow World Champions Rodeo Alliance Semi-Finals heeler Kory Koontz, who’s 48. That makes the 22-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier the same age as Carson’s dad, Jhett Johnson, who wears a gold buckle that reads 2011 World Champion Heeler. Carson and Kory are yet more cowboy-classic examples of the WCRA’s multi-generational rodeo melting pot back behind the chutes. It’s fun to see the big dogs and the young pups competing side-by-side and cheering each other on. We asked Carson and Kory, AKA “Dawg,” both one simple question…

Kellan Johnson, Kory Koontz and Carson Johnson.

Why do you choose to compete in the WCRA?

Carson Johnson will graduate from Natrona County High School on May 30. The sixth-generation Casper, Wyoming, rancher is heeling here for his big brother and reigning National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Team Roping Titlist Kellan, who’s 20. As two teenagers, Carson and Kellan won the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo and $50 grand a man last summer in Salt Lake City. Naturally, that not-so-little W put a pretty sweet WCRA taste in their mouths straight out of the blocks.

Carson Johnson is a sixth-generation Casper rancher.

What’s so great about the WCRA to me is that you can nominate everything you already go to. Then once we get here, everybody has the same chance to make the big ones (the WCRA $1 million majors—the next one is the Titletown Stampede on June 1 in Green Bay, Wisconsin). The WCRA keeps growing because everything they do is for the cowboys. We’ll keep coming, because we see that—and these are great events that are well run and pay good.

At 19 and 17, Kellan and Carson Johnson won $50,000 a man at Salt Lake last summer.

Kory Koontz has won millions in the rodeo arena, and sees the WCRA as a breath of fresh air and new money for cowboys (and cowgirls) of every kind. Koontz of Stephenville, Texas, is roping with Dustin Egusquiza here this week, and is about to start heeling for Cory Kidd at the rodeos.

It’s rare to see Kory Koontz anywhere besides a rodeo arena, but here he is hitting the ski slopes.

I think it’s so great that everyone who team ropes has the same opportunity to qualify to rope for huge money at these majors (this week’s WCRA Semi-Finals alone will shell out $500,000, and the contestant cream from here will compete in Green Bay). Everybody has the same shot at making the NFR, but that’s a yearlong marathon and a huge commitment with so many hills and valleys. The WCRA actually gives the up-and-coming young guy who hasn’t yet hit the big time and gotten that really good partner he needs a chance to showcase himself and qualify to make an event where he can win $50,000. At every WCRA event, including here at the Semis, we all get treated like royalty. There are cowboys behind the WCRA, and it shows. This is a chance for all of us to be seen on a big stage, both here and at the $1 million events in Chicago, Green Bay and Salt Lake City. It’s so cool to me that talented ropers of every kind—guys out on the full-time rodeo trail, circuit cowboys, high school and college kids—have the chance to compete at the highest level for big money. The WCRA will keep moving forward, because it’s a great opportunity and it makes sense. There’s no down side to this deal.

Kory lost the thumb on his roping hand heading when he was only 8 years old. It didn’t stop him from becoming a world-class heeler.