SAN ANGELO, Texas – Tim O’Connell missed last year’s San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, and he’s glad to return.
On Friday night, he rode United Pro Rodeo’s Pow Wow Rocks for 86 points to move into second place in bareback riding at Foster Communications Coliseum and is a virtual lock to compete in the championship round next Friday, Feb. 14.
“The ride was good,” said O’Connell, a three-time world champion from Zwingle, Iowa. “She took a scoot for about three seconds and was a third of the way down the pen when she broke. Once she did, it was a dog fight.
“I just made a businessman’s ride.”
He sits second overall with five nights of preliminary rounds remaining. Once those conclude next Thursday, the top 12 times or scores in each event will advance to the final round. That’s when the champions will be crowned in San Angelo. O’Connell would like to be one of the contestants to earn that title. Through all of the success he’s had in his young career – in addition to the three gold buckles, he has qualified for the National Finals Rodeo each of the past six years – he’s only advanced to the short round one other time.
“This is the one rodeo that’s eluded me in my career,” he said, referring to having some sort of success in a given arena. “But they’re going to give me another shot. I don’t need the best horse. I just need a chance.”
Once given that opportunity, he’s proven he does quite well. He sits No. 1 in the world standings with just more than $18,000 earned. Most of that came with his second-place finish in Denver last month, where he pocketed $14,664. He also earned money in Des Moines, Iowa, and has pocketed more than $3,000 so far in Fort Worth, Texas, with the championship round set there for Saturday night.
“The year’s been great, and it’s nice to rodeo in the winter again,” said O’Connell, who was injured on the final night of the 2018 NFR, had surgery on his riding shoulder and rehabbed until mid-June; he then went on to earn more than $100,000 in three months an 10 days to return to Vegas in December. “I’m having fun and have been enjoying riding bucking horses. I think the injury relit a passion. I re-fell in love with why I do this.”
O’Connell not only put on a show at the end of the regular season, but he then earned $147,923 in 10 nights in the Nevada desert. He finished third in the world standings and, for the first time in three years, watched someone else leave Las Vegas with the gold buckle.
“That has crazy-motivated me,” he said. “I’m happy for Clayton (Biglow), because he deserved to win the world title. I have goals and aspirations to be the best ever, so going a year without winning a world title motivates me to be better, to push myself harder. I want to work so that at the end of the 10th night in Vegas, I’m the one stepping out with the world title.
“It’s tough. It’s as filthy as it’s ever been when you look at rank bareback riders. But that’s the way it should be. We may be a small group, but we’re mighty.”
After spending a good portion of 2019 away from the game and with his wife, Sami, and son, Hazen, O’Connell has gained a new affection for time with his family. That’s why the two have joined him this winter and are enjoying moments on the rodeo trail, along with fellow bareback rider Jesse Pope of Marshall, Missouri.
“Having them experience this with me is great,” he said. “I don’t have to miss them like I normally would.”
And they got to experience the vibrant crowd that San Angelo offers every year. That’s another reason why he’s excited to ride another bucking horse next week.
“The coliseum is a smaller version of the one in Denver, and they jam pack it,” O’Connell said. “They get the sound up and the pyro, and it’s energetic. The people love rodeo. They get your motor running. It’s weird, because I usually get fired up at rodeo’s I’ve one good at, but I really like this rodeo even though I’ve never done that well. It’s got to be something about that crowd.”
San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo
Jan. 30-Feb. 14
Bareback riding leaders: 1. Kody Lamb, 88 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Hometown Girl; 2. Tim O’Connell, 86; 3. (tie) Tilden Hooper and Chad Rutherford, 84; 5. Bill Tutor, 83.5; 6. Spur Lacasse, 82; 7. Jesse Pope, 81; 8. Jade Taton, 80; 9. Tim Murphy, 79.5; 10. Kash Wilson, 79; 11. Kyle Charley, 78; 12. (tie) Pascal Isabelle, Lane McGeehee and Paden Hurst, 77.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Ty Erickson, 3.8 seconds; 2. Taz Olson, 3.9; 3. (tie) Tait Kvistad and Dalton Massey, 4.3; 5. (tie) Ryan McKay Nettle and Jacob Talley, 4.4; 7. (tie) Gary Gilbert and Jason Thomas, 4.5. Second round leaders: 1. Cameron Morman, 3.9 seconds; 2. (tie) Chance Howard and Cade Staton, 4.0; 4. Dakota Eldridge, 4.1; 5. Jesse Brown, 4.2; 6. (tie) Sterling Lambert, Luke Branquinho and Cade Goodman, 4.3. Average leaders: 1. (tie) Dalton Massey and Jacob Talley, 8.9 seconds on two runs; 3. Cade Staton, 9.3; 4. Cody Harmon, 9.4; 5. Ty Erickson, 9.6; 6. (tie) Taz Olson, Bridger Anderson and Jule Hazen, 9.7; 9. (tie) Scott Guenthner and Heath Thomas, 10.0; 11. Joe Nelson, 10.1; 12. Justin Shaffer, 10.2.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Spencer Mitchell/Cesar de la Cruz, 3.7 seconds; 2. (tie) Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira and Clay Smith/Jade Corkill, 3.8; 4. (tie) Laramie Allen/Whit Kitchens and Colton Campbell/Jordan Ketscher, 3.9; 6. Reno Cash Stoebner/Colton Brittain, 4.1; 7. Tanner Tomlinson/Coleby Payne, 4.2; 8. Manny Equsquiza Jr./York Gill, 4.3. Second round leaders: 1. Dustin Eguesquiza/Travis Graves, 3.7 seconds; 2. Erich Rogers/Paden Bray, 3.8; 3. (tie) Dawson Graham/Dillon Graham and Clint Summers/Douglas Rich, 3.9; 5. Trey Blackmore/Kory Bramwell, 4.0; 6. Jake Orman/Daniel Bramana, 4.3; 7. (tie) Gavin Foster/Daniel Reed, Kellan Johnson/Carson Johnson, Steven Duby/Jason Duby and Laramie Allen/Whit Kitchens, 4.4. Average leaders: 1. Laramie Allen/Whit Kitchens, 8.3 seconds; 2. Manny Equsquiza Jr./York Gill, 9.1; 3. Colton Campbell/Jordan Ketscher, 9.3; 4. Cory Smothers/Brandon Gonzales, 10.0; 5. (tie) Brenten Hall/Chase Tryan and Kolton Schmidt/Hunter Koch, 10.4 seconds on two runs; 7. Jaguar Terrill/Travis Woodard, 11.8; 8. J.B. James Jr./Brock Hanson, 12.5; 9. Billy Bob Brown/Chad Williams, 12.9; 10. Dawson Graham/Dillon Graham, 14.2; 11. Cyle Denison/Lane Mitchell, 14.4; 12. Cody Snow/Paul Eaves, 14.7.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Jacobs Crawley, 88 points on Lancaster & Jones ProRodeo’s Total Equine Ruffy; 2. Carter Elshere, 85.5; 3. Jesse Wright, 84.5; 4. Kolby Wanchuk, 84; 5. Tegan Smith, 83.5; 6. Jacob Lewis, 82.5; 7. (tie) Isaac Diaz and Brody Cress, 82; 9. (tie) Sterling Crawley and Ben Andersen, 81; 11. Chase Zweifel, 80; 12. (tie) Dean Wadsworth and Jade Taton, 79.5.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Lane Livingston, 7.2 seconds; 2. Shad Mayfield, 7.4; 3. (tie) Caleb Smidt and Bryson Sechrist, 7.5; 5. L.D. Meier, 7.7; 6. (tie) Blane Cox and Marcos Costa, 7.8; 8. Bo Pickett, 7.9. Second round leaders: 1. Justin Smith, 7.0 seconds; 2. Marty Yates, 7.1.; 3. (tie) Ike Fontenot and Riley Pruitt, 7.4; 5. Kincade Cullen Henry, 7.6; 6. (tie) Blane Cox and Luke Potter, 7.8; 8. (tie) Tyler Milligan, Caleb McMillan and Sy Felton, 7.9. Average leaders: 1. Blane Cox, 15.6 seconds on two runs; 2. (tie) Dakota Felton and Kincade Cullen Henry, 15.4; 4. Sterling Smith, 16.6; 5. Reid H. Zapalac, 16.7; 6. Jake Pratt, 16.8; 7. (tie) Bryson Sechrist and Stetson Vest,16,9; 9. Ty Harris, 17.0; 10. Monty Lewis, 17.1; 11. Lane Livingston, 17.3; 12. (tie) Randall Carlisle and Seth Cooke, 17.8.
Barrel racing: Second round leaders: 1. Ivy Conrado-Saebens, 14.26 seconds; 2. Carlee Otero, 14.32; 3. Cassidy Kruse Deen, 14.34; 4. Sadie Wolaver, 14.36; 5. Cheyenne Wimberley, 14.42; 6. Amanda Harris, 14.48; 7. (tie) Jacque Woolman and Margo Crowther, 14.50; 9. Loni Lester, 14.52; 10. (tie) Tara Carr an Kristy Monschein, 14.55. Average leaders: 1. Ivy Conrado-Saebens, 30.49 seconds on two runs; 2. Carlee Otero, 30.65; 3. Margo Crowther, 30.73; 4. Jacque Woolman, 30.75; 5. Amanda Harris, 30.84; 6. Cheyenne Wimberley, 30.87; 7. Loni Lester, 30.89; 8. Kristy Monschein, 30.92; 9. Jamie Chaffin, 30.97; 10. (tie) Cassidy Kruse Deen and Darla Corff, 30.99; 12. (tie) Sadie Wolaver and Christine Laughlin, 31.04.
Bull riding leaders: 1. Stetson Wright, 89 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Candy Man; 2. Elliot Jacoby, 86.5; 3. (tie) Ty Wallace, Boudreaux Campbell and Parker Cole McCown, 84; 6. Jeston Mead, 83.5; 7. Brody Yeary, 82; 8. D.J. LaFleur, 80.5.