Coy Johnston – Acentric Rodeo
Meet the Member Coy Johnston
Story by Ruth Nicolaus
National High School Rodeo world champion steer wrestler Coy Johnston and his parents, Jason and Jennifer, were on their way home from Gillette when, a few miles from home they saw red and blue lights flashing behind them, and they thought they were being stopped for speeding.
It was the Logan County (Neb.) sheriff, signaling them over. But it wasn’t to give them a ticket, but to instruct them to follow him into town, where the family got a formal escort with fire trucks, an ambulance, and people lining the streets, cheering as the world champ came back home.
Coy won both the year-end and the average title in Gillette, Wyo. at the National High School Finals Rodeo in July.
The Stapleton, Neb. cowboy was the first bulldogger out in the first performance and had the trickiest part of the entire rodeo: figuring out the start. He had been told it was five and a half under, where “you see the steer move before you move,” he said. But when he rode into the box, family friend Dustin Terrell, who was running the neck rope, told him the start had been switched to six feet, “and that’s what saved us,” Coy said. “When it goes to six (feet), it’s nod and ride.”
And that’s exactly what he did, winning the first round (4.14 seconds) and placing seventh in the second round (4.86 seconds.)
Coming into the short round, before he ran, he heard the announcer say he needed a 5.8 to win it. “Right after my run,” he said, “I looked at the big screen, and it was a four-something, and I was excited.”
He has a good team behind him. His bulldogging horse is a fifteen-year-old named Jazz who was purchased from Terry and Julie Correll from Stapleton. His hazing horse is a thirteen-year-old mare named Freckles, who was his grandpa Jim’s horse.
“I couldn’t ask for any two better horses, or a better hazer,” he said, referring to his dad, Jason, who has hazed for him the entire rodeo season.
Coy comes from a long line of bulldoggers.
His dad went to the National High School Finals in three events (steer wrestling, team roping and saddle bronc riding), and his uncles Jeff, Chad and Joel Johnston, all steer wrestle or continue to.
And on his mom’s side, her brothers Brad, Jeff and Barry Kreikemeier, were bulldoggers, too.
While in Gillette, Coy won money at the Ote Berry jackpot, winning a round and placing third in the average. He’s not a spender, but a saver: “I like to keep my money,” he said, although some of his winnings might go towards a trailer, pickup or a nice felt hat.
This fall, Coy is a senior at Stapleton High School, where he plays football, is involved in FFA, and is on the honor roll. This was the third year for him to qualify for the National High School Finals.
The Stapleton High School Booster Club helped spring the surprise on the Johnston family as they headed home from Gillette on July 24.
Jennifer had a clue something was up, because her good friend kept asking when they might be home. “I had clued in that they were going to do something in town,” she said, “but I didn’t realize it would be an escort with the sheriff and emergency vehicles,” she said.
The win “felt pretty good,” Coy said.
He was inundated with texts and congratulatory wishes after his win, and one of the first wishes came from his long-time friend and fellow steer wrestler Dane Pokorny. “I was the (2022) state champ by a half-point over Dane,” Coy said. “He was one of the first to call me, after he heard I won nationals. Dane and I are really good friends. We’ve been friends since I don’t even know when.”
Coy has two younger brothers, Cayson, who is fifteen, and Cotter, age twelve.