By: Susan Kanode
CASTLE ROCK, Colorado – Tim O’Connell might not have included the Douglas County Fair & Rodeo on his schedule in a normal year, but 2020 has been far from normal for rodeo contestants.
O’Connell from Zwingle, Iowa, took the lead in the bareback riding in Castle Rock on Saturday night with an 84.5-point ride on Summit Pro Rodeo’s horse named Trailer Home. He won the world championship in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo six times, the first was just one year after he joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and earned the rookie-of-the-year title in the bareback riding.
He has been one of the most consistent competitors in his event and that consistency was evident here on Saturday night. With one more performance here on Sunday afternoon, he is very likely to be among the money earners here and is hoping to hang on to first place. O’Connell currently leads the world standings and will be a favorite to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December and leave with a world title. That would be his fourth and would put him closer to his goal of being the bareback rider with the most world championships at six. Both Joe Alexander and Colorado’s own Bruce Ford who each have won five. Every dollar counts towards world standings, and with many rodeos across the country being cancelled and postponed, O’Connell is taking advantage of any opportunity to compete and earn a living for he and his family.
Blake Knowles of Heppner, Oregon helped his bid for a fifth Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification in the steer wrestling. Knowles stopped the clock in 4.5 seconds here to take the lead in his signature event. Currently in 12th place in the world standings, a win here would help him maintain a spot in the top 15 and get that qualification.
Emily Miller of Weatherford, Oklahoma, has used time away from competition to go to her day job as a dental hygienist in her hometown. A very understanding boss and supportive staff became her barrel racing superfans last year when she got to compete for rodeo’s championships.
Miller took her horse Beau around the cloverleaf pattern in 17.19 seconds Saturday night to move into first place. Like Knowles, she needs every dollar she can get between now and the end of the regular season Sept. 30 to be at the 2020 NFR. Miller is currently 13th in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.
Competition continues at the Douglas County Fair & Rodeo on Sunday with a performance starting at 1 p.m. Winners of the 102nd celebration will be determined after that rodeo.
The following are current leaders at the 102nd Douglas County Fair & Rodeo.
Bareback riding: 1, Tim O’Connell, Zwingle, Iowa, 84.5 points on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Trailer Home. 2, Craig Wisehart, Kersey, Colo., 83. 3, Tilden Hooper, Carthage, Texas, 82.5. 4, Tanner Aus, Granite Falls, Minn., 80.
Steer wrestling: 1, Blake Knowles, Heppner, Ore., 4.5 seconds. 2, Kalane Anders, Bayard, Neb., 4.8. 3, Dalton Burgener, Douglas, Wyo., 4.9. 4, Seth Peterson, Saguache, Colo., 5.3.
Team roping: 1, Kaleb Driggers, Hoboken, Ga., and Carson Johnson, Casper, Wyo., 4.7 seconds. 2, J.B. James Jr., Bennett, Colo., and Brock Hanson, Bennett, Colo., 4.8. 3, Garrett Tonozzi, Lampasas, Texas, and Dustin Davis, Terrell, Texas, 5.1. 4, Cory Kidd V, Statesville, N.C., and Clay Futrell, Union Grove, N.C., 5.4.
Saddle bronc riding: 1, Mitch Pollock, Winnemucca, Nevada, 82.5 points on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Harry Time. 2, Garrett Uptain, Craig, Colo., 71. 3, Garrett Buckley, Craig, Colo., 70. 4, Tyler Beebe, Rocky Ford, Colo., 64.5.
Tie-down roping: 1, Kincade Henry, Mount Pleasant, Texas, 8.8 seconds. 2, Stetson Vest, Childress, Texas, 9.0. 3, Hagen Houck, Henrietta, Texas, 10.1. 4, Joey Dickens, Loveland, Colo., 10.3.
Barrel racing: 1, Emily Miller, Weatherford, Okla., 17.19 seconds. 2, Leia Pluemer, Bosque Farms, N.M., 17.31. 3, Michelle Alley, Madisonville, Texas, 17.36. 4, Jackie Ganter, Abilene, Texas, 17.47.
Bull Riding: 1, Ruger Piva, Challis, Idaho, 83.5 points on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Suit N Tie. 2, Dylan Grant, Pavillion, Wyo., 81. 3, Stetson Wright, Milford, Utah, 75.5. 4, Dillon Tyner, Eaton, Colo., 75.