by Tracy Renck
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Tim O’Connell doesn’t have to chase a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association national championship anymore.
The standout bareback rider checked that goal off his list when he won the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo Sunday at the Silver Spurs Arena.
“I’ve never made it out of the semifinals here before, so to come in here to the finals and win it against four great competitors and four great bucking horses is amazing,” said O’Connell, who was making his second trip to the RNCFR. “The good Lord just blessed me.”
O’Connell clinched the national title with an 84-point ride on Korkow Rodeo’s Feather Fluffer in the finals. O’Connell advanced into the finals by placing fourth in the semis with a 77-point ride on Painted Pony Championship Rodeo’s Universal Mamma Don’t No.
“Winning the RNCFR is the next biggest thing you can do in ProRodeo,” said O’Connell, 24. “My ultimate goal this year is to walk out of the 10th round of the NFR (Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER) with a gold buckle on my belt, but I’m happy to strap this one on that says national champion. Half the guys here at the RNCFR were at the NFR last year and the other half are on their way. The RNCFR is a big-time rodeo.”
For his performance in Kissimmee, O’Connell left town with a $24,915 check. He also was pleased that he was able to get redemption against Feather Fluffer.
“I had been on Feather Fluffer before in Ellensburg (Wash.) last year, but I had a broken left (riding) hand and she kind of owned me,” O’Connell said. “She made me look stupid. I was hoping I would get a chance to get on her again under different circumstances and things worked out great for me today. That horse is so awesome. She gives a guy everything he absolutely needs. She kicks, she blows up and it was just so much fun to get to do what I love and I’m so blessed to be a national champ.”
O’Connell has qualified for the past two NFRs, finishing a career-best fourth last season. He was third in the April 4 WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings with $43,608.
O’Connell certainly wasn’t alone in celebrating. Team ropers – header Jake Orman and heeler Tyler Domingue – won the most money of any of the RNCFR event winners, collecting $26,601 each. They qualified out of the Texas Circuit to make their RNCFR debut.
Orman and Domingue did rope together last season, but Domingue hasn’t been roping on the PRCA circuit this season.
“We practiced one time before we came down here and this is just awesome,” Orman said. “This is the most money I’ve ever won. It is pretty cool.”
Domingue, who has been best friends with Orman for the last six years, also was basking in the win.
“It’s a great feeling to be a national champ, that’s for sure,” Domingue said. “Jake and I have always roped good together, but we took a break this winter and when we made it here I was excited I got to rope with him. To win here just makes things that much more special.”
Josh Peek, who has had immense success the last couple of years at the RNCFR, won the all-around title for the second year in a row. He left Kissimmee with $30,160 in checks from steer wrestling and tie-down roping. A year ago at the RNCFR at the Silver Spurs Arena, he won $18,171.
“It feels great to repeat as the all-around champion,” Peek said. “I have a great support system and it’s awesome to have this kind of success again.”
The other champions at the Silver Spurs Arena were steer wrestler Josh Boka, saddle bronc rider Rusty Wright, tie-down roper Clint Kindred, barrel racer Ivy Conrado and bull rider Parker Breding.
Courtesy of PRCA