A three-peat for O'Connell at St. Paul
For the third consecutive year, Iowa native Tim O'Connell won the bareback riding title at the St. Paul Rodeo.
O'Connell scored 85.5 points and earned a buckle on Bridwell Pro Rodeo's horse Ted, a steed with ties to his Iowa home. O'Connell's father, Ray, and brother, Will, raised Ted (Theodore at the time), selling him as a 2-year-old.
O'Connell had seen the horse, now a 6-year-old, buck at a rodeo in Nevada in April and said he was pleased when he learned he'd drawn the horse.
"When I got the draw I was, oh my gosh, I get to go on one of my dad's horses," he said. "It's crazy how it came full circle."
O'Connell, a two-time and reigning world champion bareback rider, was happy to get the win in St. Paul. He's sitting second in the PRCA world standings behind Caleb Bennett, but is not satisfied with that placing: "I don't like being in the second place spot in the world. I don't like any spot besides the No. 1 spot."
O'Connell and his wife Sami are adjusting to family life after the birth of a son a few months ago.
"I'm learning how to be a dad and I'm doing my job now for my wife, myself and our son," he said. "I need to stay focused out here."
To that end he also recently won rodeos in Wyoming and Colorado, in addition to placing at a number of other competitions.
Prior to the Fourth of July holiday, there was little difference between Bennett's earnings of $101,000 and O'Connell's $92,000, but the latter said it's not a competition between them: "We're friends. We're all good friends out here. None of us don't like each other. We're all out here to make a living and do what we love to do."
Another buckle for Pearson
The reigning world champion steer wrestler took the gold buckle in St. Paul.
Oklahoma native Tyler Pearson was 4.0 seconds on his first steer and 4.1 on his second to win the average with a combined time of 8.1 seconds.
Winning the world title at last year's Wrangler National Finals Rodeo has helped the 33-year-old to relax and concentrate on his craft.
"It takes the pressure off me, because (being a world champion) is your ultimate goal, and when you've done that, you can just go relax and steer wrestle," said Pearson, who is second in the world standings.
The title for all-around champion (team roping and steer wrestling) went to Clayton Hass, of Weatherford, Texas.
Other 2018 St. Paul Rodeo champions include tie-down roper Cooper Martin, of Alma Kan. (18.0 seconds on two head); team roping co-champions Garett Rogers, of Baker City, and Russell Cardoza, of Terrebonne, and Kolton Schmidt (Alberta, Canada) and Cole Davison, of Roosevelt, Utah (10.0 seconds on two head for both teams); saddle bronc rider Chase Brooks, of Belgrade, Utah; barrel racer Tracy Nowlin, of Nowata, Okla. (17.26 seconds) and bull rider Stetson Wright, of Milford, Utah (91 points).