LOUISVILLE, KY. – This was the perfect tune-up for bareback rider Tim O’Connell.
The Zwingle, Iowa cowboy, who will be competing in his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo next month, had a dominating performance at the RAM Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo (Nov. 13-15) at Freedom Hall.
O’Connell won one round and tied for first in the other two rounds to capture the average title with 245 points on three head.
Thanks to his performance, O’Connell also won the Great Lakes Circuit year-end title.
“I was doing what I have been doing all year and that’s having fun, and trying to be aggressive and trying to take care of business,” said O’Connell, 23.
This season has been a magical one for O’Connell as he finished fourth in the final regular-season Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings with $102,890. The WNFR is Dec. 4-13 at the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas.
“I feel like I’m riding good and I’m in control with what I want to do,” O’Connell said. “Everything is going correctly and the good Lord has blessed me. I’m ready to experience my first NFR. It is something I have dreamed about since I was knee-high and I feel like I’m riding good enough that I can compete at the highest level.”
Back in 2012, O’Connell finished first in the Great Lakes Circuit year-end standings and earned $20,242 on his permit, but he never had any luck at the GLCFR until this year.
“I had never even won a round at the Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo,” said O’Connell, who was the PRCA Resistol Bareback Riding Rookie of the Year in 2013. “This year things went much better for me.”
In the first round, O’Connell had a first-place tying 77-point ride on Barnes PRCA Rodeo’s Pull Ups and he then won the second round with an 84-point ride on Three Hills Rodeo’s Rocky. O’Connell capped things with another 84-point ride on MJM Rodeo’s Hawley Falls in the third round to tie for first again.
With his year-end and average titles, O’Connell qualified for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo March 25-28 at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla.
“That’s awesome and I think it is great what the PRCA is doing (increasing the money at the RNCFR),” O’Connell said. “It is better for everyone and makes circuit cowboys want to compete at the highest level to make the (RNCFR). They did a great thing and I’m excited to go and compete against those guys for a national title. Next to a world title, the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo title is right there.”
The other winners at the $125,005 rodeo were all-around cowboy Kyle Whitaker ($2,431, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and steer wrestling), steer wrestler Tooter Silver (13.7 seconds on three head), team ropers Jason Arndt and Gabe Gwaltney (21.2 seconds on three head), saddle bronc rider Austin Joseph (237 points on three head), tie-down roper Jared Kempker (26.4 seconds on three head), barrel racer Natalie Foutch, (46.97 seconds on three runs), and bull rider Will Crain (155 points on two head).
For more in-depth coverage on the 2014 Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo, see the Jan. 16 issue of the ProRodeo Sports News.
Courtesy of PRCA