postheadericon Hester goes from famine to feast

J.C. Hester rides Cervi Championship Rodeo's Dream Machine for 86.5 points Sunday to take the lead at the Rooftop Rodeo in Estes Park, Colo. (PHOTO BY GREG WESTFALL)

J.C. Hester rides Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Dream Machine for 86.5 points Sunday to take the lead at the Rooftop Rodeo in Estes Park, Colo. (PHOTO BY GREG WESTFALL)

ESTES PARK, Colo. – When J.C. Hester left Park Rapids, Minn., on Saturday for Estes Park, he reached into his pocket to count his cash.

There wasn’t much there. The Fourth of July run had been rough on the bareback rider, and his bank account was dwindling. He needed to catch a break, and that came Sunday night on a red-and-white paint horse named Dream Machine during the fourth performance of Rooftop Rodeo.

“It had been a long Cowboy Christmas,” said Hester of Queen City, Mo. “I was getting pretty tight on cash. I barely made it out here, but I was 86.5 points, so it was dang sure worth every penny.”

The Cervi Championship Rodeo bucking horse made the 15-hour one-way trip worthwhile for the Missouri cowboy, who took the bareback riding lead in Estes Park. He had never seen the horse before, but he talked to a few others who had matched moves with the animal to get the inside track.

“I knew she was a really nice horse,” he said. “She was definitely worth getting on.”

It was a far cry from the last time Hester competed at Rooftop Rodeo six years ago. That time, he suffered a broken arm and sat out of competition for about three years. Now he’s back at it and is chasing his rodeo dreams. That’s not bad for the Mississippi-raised cowboy who once dreamed of riding bulls.

“We had cows growing up, but rodeo wasn’t part of my family,” Hester said. “I went to Missouri Valley College. I started riding bulls, and here I am riding bareback horses. Ken Mason is a great coach. It’s a great college, and they breed bucking horse riders over there.”

So, what forced him away from bulls and to bucking horses?

“I was winning more money in bareback riding at the time, and I decided I was going to hang my bull rope up. I ended up showing a lot more talent in bareback riding.”

He proved that in Estes Park. Like every cowboy that makes his way up and down the rodeo trail, Hester has dreams of winning the world championship and competing against the greatest in the game at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“Just making a living is my goal this year,” he said. “Rodeo is how I make my money. I dang sure need to be winning, and if going to the finals works out for me at the end of the year, then we’ll be blessed and happy to be there.”

Rooftop Rodeo
Estes Park, Colo.
July 5-10, 2018
Leaders through fourth performance
Bareback riding:
1. J.C. Hester Jr., 86.5 points on Cervi Championship’s Dream Machine; 2. (tie) Jake Brown and Kaycee Feild, 85; 4. Lane McGehee, 83; 5. (tie) Tilden Hooper and Mason Clements, 82; 7. Paden Hurst, 81; 8. Hunter Brasfield, 80.5.

Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Sam Williams, 3.6 seconds, $1,363; 2. Will Lummus, 3.8, $1,128; 3. Laine Herl, 4.2, $893; 4. (tie) Tom Littell and Cody Devers, 4.3, $541 each; 6. (tie) Trever Nelson and Gary Gilbert, 4.4, $118 each. Second round: 1. Will Lummus, 3.2 seconds; 2. Hunter Cure, 3.7; 3. Cole McNamee, 4.0 seconds; Blake Mindemann, 4.5; 5. Laine Herl, 4.6; 6. Heath Thompson, 4.9. Average: 1. Will Lummus, 7.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Laine Herl, 8.8; 3. Hunter Cure, 9.1; 4. Sam Williams, 10.0; 5. Tom Littell, 10.6; 6. Blake Mindemann, 11.6.

Team roping: 1. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 4.4 seconds; 2. (tie) Jake Barnes/Rich Skelton and Lightning Aguilera/Brady Norman, 4.6; 2. Paul Beckett/Chad Wahlert, 4.7; 3. Kelsey Parchman/Dustin Davis, 5.2; 4. Jake Cooper/Logan Medlin, 5.3; 5. (tie) Rhett Anderson/Coleby Payne and Robert Reed/T.W. Wilson, 5.7.

Saddle bronc riding 1. Wyatt Hageman, 86 points on Cervi Brothers’ Hell’s Fire Hostage; 2. (tie) Hardy Braden and Sterling Crawley, 83; 4. (tie) Troy Crowser and Chase Brooks, 82.5; 6. Jacobs Crawley, 82; 7. Colt Gordon, 81.5; 8. Jake Watson, 81.

Tie-down roping: First round: 1. Reno Gonzales, 8.4 seconds, $1,176; 2. Jesse Clark, 9.4, $973; 3. Scott Kormos, 10.2, $771; 4. Anthony Jordan, 10.6, $568; 5. Joey Dickens, 10.7, $365; 6. Caleb Smidt, 10.9, $203. Second round: 1. Bryson Sechrist, 8.8 seconds; 2. Sterling Smith, 9.6; 3. Anthony Jordan, 10.2; 4. Cimarron Boardman, 10.9; 5. Joey Dickens, 11.4; 6. Tyson Aldredge, 17.7. Average: 1. Bryson Sechrist, 20.4 seconds on two runs; 2. Anthony Jordan, 20.8; 3. Sterling Smith, 21.4; 4. Joey Dickens, 22.1; Cimarron Boardman, 22.3; 6. Trevor Thiel, 37.7.

Barrel racing: 1. Lacinda Rose, 17.39 seconds; 2. Leia Bluemer, 17.43; 3. (tie) Heidi Tillard and Kelley Carrington, 17.47; 5. Sammi Bessert, 17.49; 6. Jaime Merrill, 17.53; 7. Kaylee Burnett, 17.63; 7. (tie) Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi and Jamie Wilson, 17.65; 9. Christine Laughlin and Amanda Harris, 17.70.

Bull riding: 1. Callum Miller, on 4L and Diamond S Ranch’s Living After Midnight, and Scottie Knapp, on 4L and Diamond S Ranch’s Monte Walsh, 89 points each; 3. Clayton Savage, 88; 4. Kyle Gardner, 85; 5. Reid Barker, 84.5; 6. Jimy Marten, 82.5; 7. Moody McCoy, 77; 8. Colten Fritzian, 75.5.

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