2018 WCI Championship Team, Snow & Thorpe
2019 NTR Champions, Jaeger & Johnson
A Team Effort
This spring, 4 Bears Casino and Event Center in New Town, ND will host the second annual World Class Invitational Team Roping Event, an event fueled by lifelong passion and commitment to the future of the sport by founding families—the Johnsons and the Tryans. Friends and Co-Producers, Shane Johnson of Johnson Performance Horses and J & J Rentals, and Travis Tryan, professional team roper and 11-time National Finals Rodeo Qualifier, established this groundbreaking event in 2018. What began with a conversation after the team roping world learned that the George Strait Team Roping Classic was coming to an end in 2017 after 35 years, quickly became a premier ‘Open to the World’ team roping event. According to Johnson, “with the George Strait coming to an end, there was just no option for open ropers to go and compete. So, we put our heads together and figured out the best timing to host an invitational and the best place—right here in North Dakota at 4 Bears.”
It is no small feat to be recognized as a premier event in the first year of any event, but with the help of the team at 4 Bears Casino and event sponsors, organizers were able to create “a big time feel in a small town.” Johnson shared, “the casino did an outstanding job hosting the event and folks were blown away by the level of talent here for the event. Even people who have been going to the NFR for years couldn’t believe how close they were to this kind of world-class talent.” Over a 1/2 million dollars were awarded in the three action-packed days of competition with contestants from across the United States, Canada and Brazil vying for the inaugural win. Both contestants and fans described it as “the most entertaining, jaw-dropping team roping they had ever witnessed.”
The entire event team behind the invitational agree that the sponsors, production crew and contestants went above and beyond to make this event a success. A Gold Buckle sponsor this year, MBI Energy Services is beyond pleased to support such a dedicated team and help them bring this world-class event to New Town for its second year.
“New Town is one of our state’s many oil-producing communities and home to those who make the work we do possible. Events like this not only showcase the athletes and keep the team roping culture alive; but the WCI also provides an opportunity for folks to enjoy high quality, family-friendly entertainment close to home.”
A Legacy of Champions
Behind the World Class Invitational are world-class families in many respects—the Johnsons and the Tryans. For the Tryan family, excellence in competition rodeo seems to run in the family. Dennis was the first team roper from the state of Montana to qualify for the NFR and his boys--Clay, Travis, and Brady--have all qualified for the NFR and, in 2010, were the first set of three brothers to qualify in the same year. Eldest son, Clay is a three-time World Champion and 16-time qualifier, Travis is an 11-time qualifier and Brady is a two-time qualifier. In addition, Clay and Travis’ mother, Terri Kaye Kirkland, is a competitive barrel-racer and, in 2003, the three became the first mother/son combination to qualify for the NFR—an accomplishment they repeated in the two years that followed.
For the Johnson family, they are witnessing the beginning of what is sure to be a bright rodeo future of their own. Shane and his wife, Jaimie, have a close-knit, blended family of eight children and 18 grandchildren. Shane grew up competing in rodeo and his two sons, Cash and Jace, both developed a love for the sport with Cash a national qualifying bronc-rider, and Jace taking to team roping at just twelve-years old. Jace went on to become the youngest competitor to ever win the national title in team roping at just 14-years old—a title he went on to win again at 15-years old and this year, he took home the three-peat winning his third consecutive national championship at the NTR National 9. In addition, in 2017, Jace was invited to partner up and compete at what is considered the Super Bowl of Team Roping--the Bob Feist Invitational--with friend, mentor and 24-time NFR qualifier, Mike Beers. Once again setting a record with his age, Jace is the youngest competitor ever invited to compete at the Bob Feist. When asked about competing with such a young partner, Beers advised, “you don’t know this kid…ice runs through his veins.” After his 2017 performance at the Bob Feist, Jace had a conversation with Bob himself and let Bob know that he hoped he did well enough to be asked back. To which Bob chuckled and replied, “oh yes, you’ll be invited back!” And indeed, he was. Jace has been invited back to compete each year since; and this year, he looks forward to competing with roping partner, Jace Crabb.
Nurturing this young talent, Shane and Jaimie homeschool Jace, who spends his days with balanced attention on his schoolwork, Bible study, practice and helping out on the family ranch. According to Shane, “Jace’s goal is to be a world champion, but he knows that college is a must. All of Jace’s earnings are being set aside for his future.” A future that looks very bright for this dedicated young athlete, who is blazing the trail of his own team roping legacy.
Jace will be competing at the WCI in New Town, ND May 30 – June 2, 2019. All events are free to the public, except for the Top 40 Finale on Saturday from 1-7 pm. Tickets are $15/person, FREE/6-years & under. For tickets and event information, visit 4bearscasino.com. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact: 701.421.1558.