Jhett Johnson

Jhett Johnson smiles before letting a steer out of the chute while preparing his team for a 2014 rodeo at Central Wyoming Fairgrounds in Casper. Johnson was named Casper College’s new head rodeo coach on Thursday.

File, Star-Tribune

After serving three years as assistant coach, Jhett Johnson was named as the new head coach of the Casper College rodeo program, the school announced last week.

Johnson takes the reins of the program that was headed by Tom Parker for 27 years before the long-time head coach died from cancer on March 15 at age 69. Johnson has served for two months as interim head coach.

“It’s official! Thanks Jhett, we know you will do a great job in making us and Tom proud to be T-Birds!,” the school said in a Facebook post.

The announcement came just 10 days before the start of the 2017 College National Finals Rodeo at Casper Events Center, where four Thunderbirds will participate.

The Casper College men’s team finished sixth in the conference and women just missed out on a team qualification with a third-place finish this season.

As the interim head coach, Johnson guided the Thunderbirds through the last two months of the season. That included rodeos in Torrington, Laramie and Fort Collins, Colorado, in addition to the Ropin’ and Riggin’ Days event that Casper College hosts annually.

This is the first collegiate head coaching position for Johnson, a graduate of Natrona County High School.

Johnson was the 2011 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Champion heeler and 2011 National Finals Rodeo World Champion team roper alongside teammate Turtle Powell.

This story originally ran in the Casper Star-Tribune and on trib.com.

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