Tim O’Connell is the defending world champion bareback rider.
Last year, he outrode some very tough cowboys including three-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier Richmond Champion, who finished runner-up in the 2017 title race, and three-time NFR qualifier Tanner Aus, who came in No. 3.
But when O’Connell competes in a rodeo, he’s not thinking about who he has to beat.
“It’s not against the other guys. It’s me against the horse,” O’Connell said. “The media wants to make it out that it’s me verses somebody else because that’s interesting. It’s you verses the horse at the end of the day.”
That will be O’Connell’s outlook when he competes in the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo’s final round on Saturday night at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
O’Connell has a great track record of conquering tougher bucking horses at Fort Worth’s renowned Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association show. He has clinched the title the past two years.
At the 2016 Fort Worth Rodeo, for example, O’Connell tied for first in the second round with a remarkable score of 86 aboard the Four Star Rodeo Co. National Finals Rodeo bronc Big Star on his way to winning the average title. Last year, O’Connell tied for first in the finals round with an 87 aboard the National Finals Rodeo bronc Ankle Biter, which is owned by Neal and Jim Gay, en route to winning the Fort Worth rodeo’s overall title.
At the 2018 Stock Show Rodeo, O’Connell tied for first in the second round with an 86 aboard Night Crawler (Pickett Rodeo Co). The 86 helped O Connell qualify for the finals. O’Connell enters ranked No. 4 with a three-ride score of 247.
Saturday night’s final will feature the top 12 in each event following the Saturday matinee performances.
A look at the title races:
▪ Bareback riding: Mason Clements, a 2017 National Finals qualifier, leads the race with a three-ride score of 254. Ty Breuer, a three-time NFR qualifier, is ranked No. 2 with a 251.5
▪ Tie-down roping: Eight-time National Finals qualifier Scott Kormos leads with a 16.7 on two runs. Clif Cooper of Decatur, another former NFR qualifier, is ranked No. 2 with an 18.1. Four-time NFR qualifier Marty Yates of Stephenville is No. 3 with an 18.2.
▪ Barrel racing: Hailey Kinsel, who finished second in the 2017 world title race, leads in Fort Worth with a 32.86 on two runs. Former NFR qualifier Kellie Collier and Sam Houston State student Loni Lester are tied for second with 33.09s. Sadye Simpson of Stephenville, who competed Friday night, is ranked fourth with a 33.11.
▪ Saddle bronc riding: Brody Cress, a Tarleton State student who last year finished second in the world, is ranked No. 1 with a two-ride score of 170.5. Rusty Wright, a two-time NFR qualifier, is ranked No. 2 with a 168.
▪ Steer wrestling: Defending world champion Tyler Pearson leads with a two-run time of 8.5. Tanner Bruner is second with a 9.0.
▪ Team roping: Matt Sherwood, the 2008 heading world champion, and his partner, Walt Woodard, a Stephenville cowboy who won the heeling world title in 1981 and in 2007, are tied for first place with their two-run time of 10.1 They are tied with Shane Phillip and Joel Bach.
▪ Bull riding: Ty Wallace and Garrett Tribble are tied for the lead with two-ride scores of 167.5s. Wallace, a three-time NFR qualifier, moved into a tie after turning in an 87 in Friday’s matinee on Foolish Dreams. Tyler Bingham, a three-time NFR qualifier, is ranked No. 3 with a 166.5.