O’Connell stays hot in Dodge City

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Three-time world champion Tim O’Connell rides Frontier Rodeo’s High Heels for 87 points Thursday night to take the bareback riding lead at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – The first time Tim O’Connell won the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo’s bareback riding title, he was 24 years old, a newlywed to his wife, Sami, and had been to the National Finals Rodeo just twice in his lifetime.

Much has changed since 2016, but one thing remains the same; he wants to win the Roundup title again. He gave himself a good chance during Thursday’s second performance by riding Frontier Rodeo’s High Heels for 87 points to take the bareback riding lead and assure himself a spot in Sunday’s championship round.

“That’s a new horse that’s been around a couple of years, but they’ve been a lot of points on her lately,” said O’Connell, who has since returned to the NFR six more times and owns three world championships. “The guys that have ridden her have used her up really well. Two weeks ago in Spanish Fork, Utah, that was probably one of the hardest rodeos I’ve gone to this summer. I was 85 points on a horse that’s been to the NFR, and I finished 11th.

‘They were 87 points on this horse and placed third, so I knew when I got here that I had a chance. If you draw a horse that good in the long round here, there’s a really good chance you’ll place high in the round and come back to the short round and have a chance to win.”

O’Connell is one of the most decorated bareback riders going down the road. Each year that he won the Montana Silversmiths gold buckle, he also won at least a share of the NFR average title. In fact, the year he won the championship in Dodge City, he followed that with the 2016 NFR average crown and the first of three straight world titles.

“This is one of those rodeos that you’ve got to show up and show out,’ he said. “It’s hard to make the short round here. Once you make the short round, they bring their absolute A team here. They bring all their showcase horses to this finals. They have big scores year after year.

“That’s because of the caliber of guys that make it here and the caliber of horses they bring.  It’s a place where if the mix gets right in the air, you can see a world record pop off.”

O’Connell is coming off his third victory at the Cheyenne (Wyoming) Frontier Days, and he’s seeing bareback riding trending upwards again. Because of the physical nature of the event, it’s the most demanding rodeo specialty on the human body. Men strap riggings tightly to bucking horses, then wedge their hands into those riggings, basically tying themselves to the animal.

The more physically fit the cowboys are, the better their bodies can handle the torture that can come.

“These kids are putting in the work at a young age,” he said. “I feel like my generation started taking being an athlete pretty serious and coming out here and riding bucking horses. These kids have started that since they were in grade school. When they come out at 18, 19 or 20 years old, they’re in shape and they’ve been on horses; they’ve been seasoned.

“This group of permit-holders is the saltiest, deepest group of bareback riders I’ve ever seen. There were three or four permit kids at the short round in Cheyenne last week; that’s a testament to how good these kids are.”

O’Connell is pretty good, and he was six seasons ago when he claimed the Roundup title. At the home he shares with his wife and two young sons, he has a place that holds his Roundup trophy from 2016.

“That buckle is in my living room, and it’s sitting next to the three average titles, and it sits next to The American, the Cheyenne and the Ellensburg buckles,” O’Connell said. “It sits up there with the most prestigious rodeo buckles you could ever win, and it sits in my living room so when people walk in, they see that buckle right away.”

Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Dodge City, Kan.
Aug. 3-7, 2022
Bareback riding leaders:
1. Tim O’Connell, 87 points on Frontier Rodeo’s High Heels; 2. (tie) Wyatt Denny and Garrett Shadbolt, 86.5; 4. Jess Pope, 85.5; 5. Lane McGehee, 84; 6. Anthony Thomas, 82.5; 7. A.J. Ruth, 72; 8. Colton Crawford, 70.

Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Bryton Edmundson, 3.9 seconds; 2. Landris White, 4.0; 3. Timmy Sparing, 4.1; 4. (tie) Stetson Jorgensen and E.J. Joos, 4.2; 6. (tie) Grady Payne and Travis Munro, 4.4; 8. (tie) Jace Melvin and Stephen Culling, 4.5. Second round leaders: 1. Cody Devers, 3.5 seconds; 2. Bridger Anderson, 3.6; 3. Dakota Eldridge, 3.7; 4. Tristan Martin, 3.8; 5. Ryan Shuckburgh, 4.0; 6. Dalton Massey, 4.1; 7. (tie) Timmy Sparing and Rowdy Parrott, 4.2. Average leaders: 1. Timmy Sparing, 8.3 seconds on two runs; 2. Landris White, 8.4; 3. Bryton Edmundson, 8.7; 4. (tie) Stetson Jorgensen and Stephen Culling, 8.8; 6. (tie) Cody Devers and Rowdy Parrott, 9.0; 8. Jace Melvin, 9.2; 9. Dylan Schroeder, 9.3; 10. (tie) Gavin Soileau and Bridger Aanderson, 9.5; 12. Kalane Anders, 9.7.

Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Clay Smith/Jake Long, 4.9 seconds; 2. (tie) Paul David Tierney/Tanner Braden and Tyler Wade/Trey Yates, 5.4; 4. Dustin Egusquiza/Travis Graves, 5.5; 5. Chad Masters/Paul Eaves, 5.6; 6. Quinn Kesler/Caleb Hendrix, 6.0; 7. Nelson Wyatt/Tyler Worley, 6.2; 8. (tie) Kreece Thompson/Chad Williams and Brandon Farris/Brandon Bates, 6.5. Second round leaders: 1. Derrick Begay/Colter Todd, 4.6 seconds; 2. (tie) Tanner James/Max Kuttler and Coleman Proctor/Logan Medlin, 5.3; 4. Clay Smith/Jake Long, 6.1; 5. Quinn Kesler/Caleb Hendrix, 6.4; 7. J.D. Yates/Marcus Banister, 8.1; 7. Peyton Holliday/Kolton Good, 9.7; 8. Jeff Johnston/Jett Hillman, 10.4. Average leaders: 1. Clay Smith/Jake Long, 11.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Quinn Kesler/Caleb Hendrix, 12.5; 3. Coleman Proctor/Logan Medlin, 12.6; 4. J.D. Yates/Marcus Banister, 16.4; 5. Wyatt Bray/Trevor Nowlin, 18.8; 6. Ryan VonAhh/Kollin VonAahn, 19.3; 7. Nelson Wyatt/Tyler Worley, 21.3; 8. Derrick Begay and Colter Todd, 4.6 seconds on one run; 9. Tanner James/Max Cuttler, 5.3; 10. (tie) Tyler Wade/Trey Yates and Paul David Tierney/Tanner Braden, 5.4; 12. Dustin Egusquiza/Travis Graves, 5.5.

Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Riggin Smith, 85.5 points on Championship Pro Rodeo’s Michael; 2. (tie) Lefty Homan and Wade Sundell, 83.5; 4. Shorty Garrett, 83; 5. Logan Cook, 82.5; 6. (tie) Wyatt Casper, Isaac Diaz and Cable James Wareham, 82; 9. (tie) Sterling Crawley and Jake Burwash, 81; 11. Will Pollock, 80.5; 12. Jake Finlay, 79.5. 

Breakaway roping leaders: 1. Bradi Good, 2.6 seconds; 2. Loni Lester, 3.0; 3. Mable McAbee, 3.1; 4. Winter Williams, 3.3; 5. Lari Dee Guy, 3.4; 6. Rylea Fabrizio, 3.5; 7. Tamara Tunink, 3.7; 8. (tie) Morgan Kessler and Sawyer Gilbert, 3.8; 10. Hannah Hughes, 4.1; 11. Brandy Gilbert, 4.5; 12. Jackie Crawford, 4.6.

Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Cory Solomon, 8.3 seconds; 2. Kincade Henry, 8.7; 3. Westyn Hughes, 8.8; 4. Blake Chauvin, 9.3; 5. Marty Yates, 9.4; 6. Tyson Durfey, 9.7; 7. (tie) Anthony Jordan and Benny Mosley, 10.9. Second round leaders: 1. King Pickett, 8.2 seconds; 2. Riley Webb, 9.0; 3. Marty Yates, 9.2; 4. (tie) Cory Solomon and Adam Gray, 9.3; 6. Marcos Costa, 9.4; 7. Sy Felton, 9.6; 8. Benny Mosley, 10.0. Average leaders: 1. Cory Solomon, 17.6 seconds on two runs; 2. Marty Yates, 18.6; 3. Benny Mosley, 20.0; 4. Westyn Hughes, 20.5; 5. Lane Livingston, 20.5; 6. Riley Webb, 21.3; 7. King Pickett, 21.5; 8. Sy Felton, 22.6; 9. Richard Newton, 23.2; 10. (tie) Chet Weitz and Cody McCartney, 23.7; 12. (tie) Chase Webster and Anthony Jordan, 24,7.  

Barrel racing leaders: 1. Michelle Darling, 17.22 seconds; 2. Tarryn Lee, 17.28; 3. Keyla Polizello Costa, 17.35; 4. Destri Devenport, 17.45; 5. Tammy Peterson, 17.49; 6. Tamara Reinhardt, 17.58; 7. Jacie Etbauer, 17.60; 8. Timber Allenbrand, 17.67; 9. Hailey Kinsel, 17.74; 10. (tie) Kallie Gates and Shannon McReynolds, 17.76; 12. Savannah Woodfin, 17.77.

Bull riding leaders: 1. Canyon Bass, 85.5 points on Frontier Rodeo’s 997; 2. Tyler Bingham, 85; 3. Brett McAbee, 84.5; 4. Hayes Weight, 83; 5. Trevor Reiste, 82.5; 6. Creek Young 79.5; 7. Reid Oftedahl, 73; no other qualified rides.


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