By Jesse Wolfersberger
Since they couldn’t make it to the competition, J.D. Kibbe had to break the good news over the phone to his parents.
“We were on pins and needles,” his mom, Karen Kibbe, said. “And at about 9:30, he called, and the first thing he said was, ‘Dad, I’m the champ.’”
J.D. Kibbe won the cattle roping event at the Dodge National Circuit Finals, held on March 15-18 at Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho.
The 20th annual DNCFR had 192 ropers and riders from 12 circuits vying for national titles in eight catagories. Kibbe qualified by winning cattle roping in the Turquoise Circuit in January.
As joyous as his winning phone call was, a phone call earlier in the week broke seemingly devastating news.
He was in the middle of a blizzard, and it looked like it would cost him his shot at the national championship.
He called his parents at 2 a.m. and said, “I don’t know if we’ll get there.”
He was almost 200 miles away, sliding on an icy road in the middle of the night in an 18-wheeler.
“We had already driven for about 12 hours,” Kibbe said. “So it wouldn’t have been very good if we had to turn around.”
The bad weather had already derailed his parents’ travel plans. They had scheduled their vacation around seeing their son rope in Pocatello, but they were stuck at home, waiting for updates from their son.
“It was horrible,” his dad, Dwayne Kibbe, said. “It about killed my wife.”
At 10 a.m., the weather cleared enough to drive, and J.D. Kibbe and bronc rider Steve Dollarhide continued their journey. They arrived midafternoon, well past the noon check-in time, but with plenty of time to prepare for the night’s events.
During the four-day competition, Kibbe called his parents every night, updating them on his progress. He reported sixth place after the first day and sixth again after the second, just qualifying for the eight-person semifinals.
The top four ropers would survive from the semifinals to the finals, again Kibbe squeaked in, placing fourth.
After three days of solid but unspectacular roping by Kibbe, winning the finals would have been a surprise to just about everyone — everyone except his mother.
“I just had a good feeling,” she said. “I guess you could call it women’s intuition.”
J.D. Kibbe had tied his calf in 8.1 seconds and won the DNCFR in his first time at the event.
He won a prize package that included money, boots, shirts, a belt buckle and a brand-new Dodge truck of his choosing.
“It’s black, it’s got a mega cab, leather seats, a sunroof, four-wheel drive,” J.D. Kibbe said. “You name it, and I got it put on there.”
The win was the second big victory in a two-week span for the Kibbes. On March 11, Dwayne Kibbe led Des Moines High School to a Class 1A state basketball title in his last game before retirement.
“You can’t go out any better of a way,” J.D. Kibbe said. “I’m more happy for him than for my win.”
Dwayne Kibbe said his title does not compare favorably with his son’s.
“He won a national title,” he said. “I won a state title.”
Since his championship, J.D. Kibbe has been training and competing for future belt buckles and trucks, that is, if Mother Nature doesn’t have other plans.
“It happens, I guess,” he said. “But it would have been pretty disappointing.”