CHEYENNE – John Douch grew up in a rodeo family and has been roping and riding as long as he can remember.
He also happened to grow up near one of the best ropers in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association history.
Douch has tried to use both to his advantage as he embarks on his own roping career.
The 24-year-old from Huntsville, Texas, won Saturday’s tie-down roping quarterfinal round at Cheyenne Frontier Days. He stopped the clock in 11.3 seconds.
Douch will return to Cheyenne for the semifinals Friday.
“The way this is set up, you just have to do your best and hope you’ve got a good animal,” Douch said. “I gave myself a chance to win this rodeo. I just have to do it again in the semifinal round.”
Douch earned his spot in Saturday afternoon’s main performance by finishing fifth in morning qualifying with a 14-second run. Under CFD’s tournament system, the top 12 ropers in each morning’s qualifying advance to that day’s quarterfinals.
Douch is currently ranked No. 18 in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s tie-down roping world standings. He has earned nearly $41,000 this season and is in the hunt to make his first National Finals Rodeo. Douch will be able to add $1,899 to that total after winning Saturday’s round.
“This is the best position I’ve been in during the summer time, so I’m really happy right now,” Douch said. “I haven’t gotten any big wins, but I’ve earned enough checks to keep going. I’m excited to see how well the next couple weeks go. Winning Cheyenne would be a big move for me.”
Selling a horse to five-time tie-down roping world champion Joe Beaver resulted in a mentor relationship that continues today.
“I started hanging out with him more and more and he started taking me to pro rodeos and junior rodeos,” Douch said. “He is a hard coach but he is a winner and he always wants to see me do good.
“At first, that was kind of hard to take. But the more I hung around him and the better I got, the more I got used to it.”
Beaver was supposed to be in Cheyenne on Saturday, but took a detour to Lincoln, Nebraska, to watch Douch’s younger brother, Koby, rope in the finals of the National High School Finals Rodeo.
Breakaway roper Josie Eichler’s first appearance at the “Daddy of ’em All” couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. The Newberg, Missouri, cowgirl placed 13th during her portion of qualifying Wednesday morning. She backed that up with the fastest time of Saturday’s opening performance.
“This is the biggest rodeo I’ve ever been to,” Eichler said. “All I can do is thank the Lord. He has put the right cattle in front of me, and I’ve used my head and horse to win.
“My horse is a veteran to the sport. She is 19 and works the box so well. She puts the brakes on right when I need her to. She puts me right in position to take a good shot and be as fast as I can.”
Laramie County Community College steer wrestler Cauy Pokorny qualified for the quarterfinals with a 6.2-second run Saturday morning. That time was the second-fastest of qualifying.
Pokorny finished sixth in the quarters at 10.6 seconds.
Team ropers Zane Murphy of Cheyenne and Dusty Taylor of Craig, Colorado, made the quarters and caught their steer in 17.2 seconds. University of Wyoming cowboy Jase Staudt of Nathrop, Colorado, and partner Riley Pedro of Honolulu, Hawaii, also stopped the clock in 17.2. Staudt and Pedro had the fastest qualifying time.
Zane Thompson of Cheyenne and Ryan Rochlitz of Minatare, Nebraska, notched a time of 22.6 seconds during the quarterfinals.
UW alum Clayton Van Aken of Yoder and Gralyn Elkins had a no-time in team roping during the quarters.