O’Connell spurs to Dodge lead

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DODGE CITY, Kan. – A great deal has happened in Tim O’Connell’s life the last nine months.

He earned his second straight bareback riding world championship last December, clinching it at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Three months later, his wife, Sami, gave birth to their first child, a son named Hazen.

He had the best Cowboy Christmas of his career during the lucrative series of rodeos spread out over the Fourth of July holiday. Now he sits second in the world standings, less than $3,000 behind the leader, Caleb Bennett.

On Friday night during the third performance of Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, he matched moves with Frontier Rodeo’s Times Up for 87 points to take the bareback riding lead. He will return as one of the top 12 guys in each event competing Championship Sunday at Roundup Arena.

“My summer got hot,” said O’Connell, who has doubled his money in late June, with more than $30,000 coming over the Fourth of July. “I got my ‘father life taken care of, learning how to be a dad and a cowboy. Mentally, I just wasn’t there mentally in the winter, wondering all the time if I was going to be at a rodeo and get a phone call that my wife was in labor.

Tim O'Connell
Tim O’Connell

“It messed me up more than I wanted to admit, so I had an unsatisfactory winter. My son was born, I was there for it and my wife handled it like a champ. Now five months into it, my game turned on.”

Heading into April, he was 13th on the money list. He hit the learning curve, and things picked up immediately. By April 9, he was third in the standings. He’s been at the top ever since.

But a week ago, he took another hit when his horse fell over on him at the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo. He suffered a “bucket-handle” tear in his meniscus that likely will require surgery. Earlier this week, however, doctors gave him a shot that has eased the pain.

“It’s a numbing agent, a dulled-down version of cortisone,” he said. “It takes the inflammation out of my knee. After a few days, the inflammation left.”

He’s trying to stave off the potential surgery, though.

“We’re just in the heart of the season,” said O’Connell of Zwingle, Iowa. “I needed to come here and see what I could do not babying it. If I could not perform to the best of my abilities tonight, then I was going under the knife next week to get it taken care of.”

It comes down to having himself ready to battle for a third straight gold buckle when he arrives in Las Vegas in December.

“How I want to be mentally, physically and spiritually is that when I show up to the NFR, I don’t want to have any doubts on what I need to do,” he said. “People don’t understand that the NFR is an animal itself. It’s the most grueling 10 days you’ll put your body through. If you show up with a Band-Aid, they’re going to tear it into an open wound by Round 7. You have to be ready for it.

“It’s part of the game, getting on that caliber of horses day in and day out. I look down the road at that more than I do the next six weeks go close out the season.”

And rightfully so. For now, though, he’d like to win Roundup Rodeo for the second time in three years.

Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Dodge City, Kan.
Aug. 1-5
Bareback riding leaders:
1. Tim O’Connell, 87 points on Fronteir Rodeo’s Time’s Up; 2. (tie) Seth Harwick and Wyatt Denny, 84; 4. (tie) Clayton Biglow and Steven Dent, 83; 6. Jesse Pope, 82; 7. Will Martin 78; 8. J.C. Hester, 76; 9. (tie) Will Lowe, Kyule Charley and Tilden Hooper, 75; 12. (tie) Kenny Haworth and Tony Barrington, 73.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. (tie) Tanner Bruner and Cody Pratt, 3.8 seconds; 3. (tie) Tom Littell and Cameron Morman, 3.9; 5. Bridger Anderson, 4.2; 6. Tyler Waguespack, 4.3; 7. Tom Lewis, 4.4; 8. (tie) Kyle Irwin and Heath Thomas, 4.6. Second round leaders: 1. (tie) Tyler Pearson and Blake Mindemann, 3.7 seconds; 3. Chancey Larson, 3.8; 4. Aaron Vosler, 4.0; 5. Nick Guy, 4.2; 6. (tie) Stockton Graves and Bridger Anderson, 4.3; 8. (tie) Blake Knowles and Tyler Waguespack, 4.4.  Average leaders: 1. Bridger Anderson, 8.5 seconds on two runs; 2. Tanner Bruner, 8.6; 3. Tyler Waguespack, 8.7; 4. Stockton Graves, 9.1; 5. Tom Littell, 9.5; 6. (tie) Heath Thomas and Cody Pratt, 9.9; 8. Blake Knowles, 10.1; 9. Kyle Irwin, 10.3; 10. (tie) Levi Rudd and Kyle Whitaker, 10.4; 12. Shane Frey, 10.7.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Jr. Dees/Cody Cowden, 4.7 seconds; 2. Paul David Tierney/Danner Braden, 5.0; 3. Tyler Wade/Tyler McKnight, 5.4; 4. Tanner Baldwdin/Seth Hall, 5.5; 5. Steven Duby/Evan Arnold, 5.6; 6. Matt Sherwood/Buddy Hawkins II, 6.4; 7. Cale Markham/Jake Clay, 6.6; 8. Joe Hub Baker/Jake Cobb, 6.8. Second round leaders: 1. Tyler Wade/Tyler McKnight, 4.8; 2. Jake Orman/Will Woodfin, 5.0; 3. Casey Hicks/Justin Fox, 5.1; 4. Chad Masters/Joseph Harrison, 5.2; 5. JoJo LeMond/J.D. Yates, 5.4; 6. Jr. Dees/Cody Cowden, 5.5; 7. Jake Barnes/Rich Skelton, 5.9; 8. Cory Kidd V/Caleb Anderson, 6.5. Average leaders: 1. (tie) Tyler Wade/Tyler McKnight and Jr. Dees/Cody Cowden, 10.2 seconds on two runs; 3. Paul David Tierney/Tanner Braden, 12.4; 4. Cale Markham/Jake Clay, 13.5; 5. Cory Kidd V/Caleb Anderson, 14.3; 6. Chad Masters/Joseph Harrison, 16.2; 7. Billy Peters/Rio Esquibel, 17.6; 8. JoJo LeMond/J.D. Yates, 21.1; 9. Dylan Gordon/Gage Williams, 22.1; 10. Wheston Jones/Jett Hillman, 22.2; 11. Jake Orman/Will Woodfin, 25.4; 12. Lane Ivy/Blaine Vick, 25.5.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Jake Wright, 87.56 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Bordertown; 2. Taos Muncy, 85.5; 3.  Joe Lufkin, 85; 4. (tie) Spencer Wright and Bradley Harter, 83.5; 6. (tie) Rusty Wright and Mitch Pollock, 82.5; 8. (tie) CoBurn Bradshaw and Shade Etbauer, 82; 10. Dawson Hay, 81; 11. Wyatt Casper and Clay Elliott, 80.5.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Chance Oftedahl, 8.5 seconds; 2. Paul David Tierney, 8.8; 3. (tie) Weldon Watson and Cooper Martin, 9.1; 5. Marty Yates, 9.3; 6. (tie) Tuf Cooper and Blake Ash, 9.4; 8. (tie) Ty Baker and Charlie Gibson, 9.6. Second round leaders: 1. Caleb Smidt, 9.6 seconds; 2. Hudson Wallace, 8.8; 3. (tie) Scott Kormos and Tanner Green, 8.9; 5. 5. Cheyenne Harper, 9.4; 6. Dennis Luetge, 9.6; 7. Reese Reimer, 9.7; 8. Trell Etbauer. 9.9. Average leaders: 1. Caleb Smidt, 18.7 seconds on two runs; 2. Tanner Green, 18.9; 3. Ty Baker, 19.6; 4. Weldon Watson, 20.1; 5. Blake Ash, 20.4; 6. Bryson Sechrist, 22.0; 7. Cheyenne Harper, 23.1; 8. Trell Etbauer, 23.2; 9. (tie) Charlie Gibson and Cooper Martin 25.0; 11. Tyler Milligan, 25.3; 12. Royce Lynch, 25.6.
Barrel racing: First round leaders: 1. Sarah Rose McDonald, 17.15 seconds; 2. Shali Lord, 17.16; 3. Jimmie Smith, 117.18; 4. Lori Todd, 17.20; 5. Leia Pluemer, 17.22; 6. Cierra Chapman, 17.41; 7. (tie) Ali Armstrong and Monica McClung, 17.43; 9. Jana Bean, 17.47; 10. Christine Laughlin, 17.58. Second round leaders: 1. Kylie Weast, 17.26 seconds; 2. Carley Richardson, 17.31; 3. Shali Lord, 17.32; 4. (tie) Jana Bean and Sissy Winn, 17.34; 6. Skyla Whitters, 17.38; 7. (tie) Cierra Chapman and Monica McClung, 17.39; 9. Molly Childers, 17.57; 10. Leia Pluemer, 17.58. Average leaders: 1. Shali Lord, 34.48 seconds on two runs; 2. (tie) Cierra Chapman and Leia Pluemer, 34.80; 4. Jana Bean, 34.81; 5. Monica McClung, $34.82; 6. Kylie Weast, 34.88 ; 7. Jimmie Smith, 34.93; 8. Sissy Winn, 34.93; 9. Christine Laughlin, 35.29; 10. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 35.30; 11. Haley Wolfe, 35.31; 12. Tyra Kane, 35.33.
Bull riding leaders: 1. J.W. Harris, 88 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Kooty Crazy; 2. Aaron Williams, 86; 3. Laramie Mosley, 85; 4. (tie) Ruger Piva and Jesse Petri, 84; 6. Tim Bingham, 83.5; 7. Callum Miller and Clayton Sellers, 81.5; 9. Tyler Bingham, 81; 10. Fulton Rutland, 80.5; 11. Chase Dougherty, 78; 12. Trevor Kastner, 76.5.


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