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Strong Seminole contenders ride for Tribe at INFR

Jobe Johns, 17, of Lake Placid, gets ready to take down a steer during the Indian National Finals Rodeo held Nov. 8-12 in Las Vegas. Jobe, in his first INFR competing against adults, placed eighth in steer wrestling and sixth in calf roping.  (Smith Rodeo Photos/Matilda Smith)
Jobe Johns, 17, of Lake Placid, gets ready to take down a steer during the Indian National Finals Rodeo held Nov. 8-12 in Las Vegas. Jobe, in his first INFR competing against adults, placed eighth in steer wrestling and sixth in calf roping. (Smith Rodeo Photos/Matilda Smith)

LAS VEGAS — Indian National Finals Rodeo turned 40 in November, meaning it’s been around longer than most of the cowboys and cowgirls who represented the Seminole Tribe of Florida at this year’s event in Las Vegas.

More than a dozen Seminoles competed among Indian Country’s elite in junior, senior and adult divisions from Nov. 8-12 on the dirt at South Point Equestrian Center. Most of the Seminoles qualified through the Eastern Indian Rodeo Association.

Jobe Johns and his cousin Jacoby Johns were the lone Seminoles who advanced past qualifying rounds in Las Vegas to reach the short go finals.

At 5-foot-8 and about 145 pounds, 17-year-old Jobe Johns ventured into INFR’s adult division for the first time. Facing older and bigger competitors didn’t faze Jobe, who produced the Tribe’s most impressive performance by finishing sixth overall in calf roping and eighth overall in steer wrestling.

“It means a lot being 17 and roping with the big guys,” said Jobe, a home-schooled high school senior.

Jobe, the son of Tara and retired rodeo champion Billy Joe Johns, made his first trip to INFR since 2010 when he competed as a junior at age 12. Spectators filled the 4,800-seat capacity arena, described by INFR as being “nearly sold out.”

“It’s just business; you’re not out there to play around,” Jobe said.

A top 15 average through three preliminary rounds earned Jobe and his horse Dalilah a spot in the calf roping short go round. The teen cowboy from Lake Placid and the 8-year-old gray quarter-horse from Texas thrived at the right time as they combined to turn in the second fastest performance in the short go. Jobe’s time of 8.95 seconds boosted him a few notches up the final leaderboard.

“She’s a good horse. I got her from Texas about a year ago,” he said. “She’s easy, but she can be mean to other horses.”

A leg wound kept Dalilah out of action earlier this year, but she fully recovered.

“Over the past five months, we’ve really started to click,” Jobe said.

Jobe was one of only three calf ropers to score under 10 seconds in short go.

“I had a good calf. I just went out there and scored good,” he said.

In steer wrestling, Jobe again shined on the big stage in short go. He tackled the steer in 4.36 seconds, the fourth-fastest time out of the final 15 competitors and by far his best time in four rounds.

Although he was 2,300 miles from home, Jobe competed with the Tribe close to his heart, literally. The front of Jobe’s competition shirts are adorned by a Hard Rock Cafe patch on his right shoulder and the Seminole Tribe of Florida patch on the left shoulder. He thanked all his sponsors and picked up two additional ones at INFR: the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation and Go Rope Clothing Co.

Jobe also partnered with fellow Seminole Blevyns Jumper in team roping at INFR. The duo didn’t reach the short go but will continue to team rope together throughout the high school and EIRA seasons. They are determined to return to Las Vegas next year.

“It was a great experience. I’ve been there before, but not in the adult division,” said Blevyns, a senior at American Heritage School in Plantation. “This is our first year and we both liked it. It’s a big step up. We’re going to be back.”

Jacoby Johns, the 2013 and 2014 INFR Tour Rodeo bareback champion, finished 13th in bareback. His best outing came in the second round when his 72 points tied him for seventh.

Elsewhere, header Justin Gopher and heeler Naha Jumper barely missed qualifying for short go in team roping. After not scoring in the first round, they returned with 15th- and 14th-place finishes, respectively, but wound up 17th, two spots out of short go.

The Tribe featured two competitors each in ladies breakaway roping and ladies barrel racing. Trina Bowers-Hipp finished 19th overall, highlighted by the eighth-fastest time in round three (3.19). LeAnna Billie’s best round came in the third when she placed 20th in 5.64.

In barrels, both the Tribe’s participants finished in the top 25 overall. Ashley Parks was 19th and Loretta Peterson was 23rd. Loretta’s best time – 15.95 – was eighth fastest in the third round.

Kelton Smedley competed in three rounds of bull riding but did not score.

Logan Hyatt, who lives with Jobe Johns’ family, missed qualifying for steer wrestling short go by one spot. He started with a 4.55 – third-fastest time in the first round – and finished 16th overall. In calf roping, Logan finished 21st overall.

In juniors, which featured two rounds, Ahnie Jumper, posted breakaway roping’s 10th-best time in the first round with a 4.17. She didn’t score in the second round.

Daniel Rodriguez competed in breakaway roping and bull riding. His best showing came in the second round of bull riding when he tied for 11th with 62 points.

Bull rider Jaylen Baker scored 69 points on his first ride, good enough for eighth overall. He didn’t score in the second round.

Budha Jumper notched a pair of top 25 finishes in barrel racing. Budha’s time of 16.97 was 22nd in round one. In the second round, she finished 23rd in 17.35.

Madisyn Osceola, another barrel racer, was 28th on day one in 17.96, and 29th on day two in 21.18.

In senior breakaway roping, Norman Johns didn’t score in his first round but returned on day two and posted the 20th-fastest time in 4.98.

 

 

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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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