O’Connell, Jarboe claim event titles during Navy SEAL Foundation fundraiser
ROSENBERG, Texas – Memorial Day is much more than back yards, barbecues and gatherings with friends. It’s more than kicking off summer, lounging by the pool or enjoying time on the lake.
It was established to honor fallen heroes, those that have given everything in defense of the country. It’s the perfect time for the U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Memorial Classic, which took place this past weekend at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds in Rosenberg.
For the second straight year, the event included the U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Ultimate Challenge, a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bareback riding and bull riding; it’s become quite a hit in professional rodeo.
“The Danny Dietz Memorial Classic started out with some humble beginnings to honor the fallen SEALs and bring back the true meaning of Memorial Day,” said Patsy Dietz-Shipley, Dietz’s widow and co-founder of the classic. “This Memorial weekend as I watched and enjoyed the PRCA event, I realized we have accomplished our mission.
“These hard men who ride these bulls and horses have a lot of similarities with our elite warriors … they are patriotic and love our country, they are passionate about the sport they do and they never quit. I can’t wait to see this event grow each year and see how the American people come together during such a special time like Memorial Day.”
The Dietz Ultimate Challenge has become a go-to event for some of the best roughstock cowboys in ProRodeo. World champions and Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers made up the 24-man field in each of the events. In fact, reigning world champion Tim O’Connell of Swingle, Iowa, scored 90 points to win the bareback riding title in Rosenberg.
“That’s a pretty awesome horse,” he said of Pickett Rodeo’s Shady Nights. “I was very lucky to get Shady Nights. I’ve wanted to get on that horse for a long time.
“I like that she blows to the left right (out of the chute). She did exactly what I figured she’d do. It was just perfect timing from the both of us and was a lot of fun. I really opened up and exposed myself, and she was jumping really high, probably at least two feet off the ground. It was a good match-up.”
Bull rider Roscoe Jarboe, a 2016 NFR qualifier from New Plymouth, Idaho., won the bull riding championship with an 84-point ride on Rafter H Rodeo’s Feel The Noise. Both Jarboe and O’Connell pocketed $3,779 with their victories, but the biggest part of the weekend was being involved with the memorial event.
“It’s very special,” O’Connell said. “I got to take one of the widows out into the arena to start it off. Being at an event like that puts everything into perspective. We can get on bucking horses because these guys have put their lives on the line to keep us free.
“It’s like they say, ‘We are the land of the free because of the brave.’ I can’t thank the men and women of the armed forces enough, what they’ve seen and what they’ve been through so we get to live our lives the way we do. To have an event at the memorial for Danny Dietz is nice, but I think we should have more of them and not just Memorial Day weekend.”
The Dietz Ultimate Challenge paid out more than $25,000 in just one Saturday. O’Connell likes that the event has a great response, but he expects it to continue growing in the years to come.
“This event has grown so much in just its second year with the Resistol American feather campaign,” said Danny Quinlin, chairman of the event. “It amazes me how much the NSW community and the Gold Star families back and enjoy this event. We look forward to the continued growth of both the event and its fundraising mission for the Navy SEAL Foundation.”
Clint Cannon – a five-time NFR qualifier from nearby Waller, Texas, and one of the Dietz Ultimate Challenge organizers – said there is great potential in the specialized bareback riding and bull riding aspect.
“This is a great opportunity to show fans some of the greatest roughstock cowboys and some of the toughest cowboys in rodeo,” Cannon said. “When you have guys like Tim O’Connell, Caleb Bennett, (three-time world champion bull rider) Sage Kimzey all coming for one night, it says something to the people here.
“This is a great event and a great partnership for the U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Memorial and the PRCA. For me and my brother, Kirby, it’s just an honor to be part of such a special event in southeast Texas.”