AUSTIN, Texas – There’s just something about a big winter rodeo in Texas that brings out the best in Josh Koschel.
The 29-year-old bull rider rebounded from a tough first round to win Rodeo Austin on Sunday afternoon – 13 months after he topped the field at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo in February of 2013.
Koschel was thrown off his bull in the first round, but came right back with an 85-point ride in the second round to qualify for the finals of this Wrangler Million Dollar Tour event, presented by Justin Boots.
Once there, he rode Andrews Rodeo’s Panther for 86 points in the short round. After all the other riders failed to stay on in the finals, Koschel had a healthy payday and a shiny new buckle.
“The first round didn’t go well, but I made up for it in the second round,” Koschel said. “There were only two guys who had two scores coming into the short go, so I knew that if I rode I’d make some money.”
He indeed made some money – $7,592 to be exact. But more than the money and the buckle, Koschel got some revenge on the bull he covered in the finals. Just weeks before, Panther had tossed Koschel with a tricky move in San Antonio.
“In the third round in San Antonio this year, after two or three jumps he took a step forward, and I let him get me off balance; this time I was aggressive and was ready for it,” Koschel said of staying on Panther.
Koschel’s 171 points on two head was enough to leave town with a big smile on his face. He says there hasn’t been much reason to smile since he finished fifth in the world and fourth in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo average race last December.
“I feel like I’ve been on top of my game for about three days this whole winter, and those three days were the last three,” Koschel said of competing in Austin. “I didn’t feel that I was riding like I should until these last couple of days. Overall, for the winter, I wasn’t very good, but I finished it like I should.”
Last winter was the same way for Koschel until his big win in San Antonio. He attributes slow winter runs to not being on enough bulls during rodeo’s brief off-season.
However, when there’s a large check on the line at a Wrangler Million Dollar Gold Tour rodeo in Texas, Koschel is at his best.
“It gets me more excited when there’s a lot of money at stake and I’m in a position to win it,” the Nunn, Colo., cowboy said. “This win will make up for some of the other ones I missed out on this winter. It’ll build my confidence and set me up for a good spring and summer.”
Other winners at this $391,603 rodeo were bareback rider Kaycee Feild (252 points on three head), steer wrestler K.C. Jones (11.8 seconds on three head), team ropers Dustin Bird and Paul Eaves (15.2 seconds on three head), saddle bronc riders Tyrel Larsen and Ryan MacKenzie (243 points each on three head), tie-down roper Justin Maass (26.0 seconds on three head) and barrel racer Natalie Foutch (45.73 seconds on three runs).
Courtesy of PRCA