Skip to content

December 9, 2018

Tim O’Connell rides Craig at Midnight to shake off slow start

by Equestrian Influence

Photograph by Tom Donoghue

LAS VEGAS – The first two rounds of the Wrangler NFR were unkind to two-time defending bareback riding champion Tim O’Connell.  He failed to place in either round, meaning no extra money. Yet he still held first place in the world standings.
That lead grew quite a bit after O’Connell won Round 3 with an 88.5-point ride on Powder River Rodeo’s Craig at Midnight in front of 17,031 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Saturday, Dec. 8.

“I didn’t know the NFR was only eight rounds long this year,” O’Connell joked. “I told my wife last night before the draw came in that I was going to let everything go, I was going to make a riggings change, go back to my old rigging. I knew the E-Pen (Eliminator Pen) was going to be the pen that I was going to kick it off in.”
After taking home $26,231 for winning the round, O’Connell saw his lead grow to $35,553.
That lead isn’t near enough to put O’Connell at ease. After winning the world title the last two years, O’Connell knows there’s too much talent to feel relaxed.
“I had a real sense of urgency to get it going tonight,” he said. “I needed to break the ice and get myself back in a position to start moving away from everybody again. There’s no sense the pressure is off by any means. I’ve got the best field of bareback riders that I’ve ever competed with to go into a world title race. I’m not going to take the pressure off until I get off my 10th one.”
O’Connell was excited to yet again ride Craig at Midnight.
“It sent a shiver down my spine,” said the Zwingle, Iowa, cowboy. “I knew he was going to give me a chance. The first round, weird start, because that’s a great horse (J Bar J’s Beyond Bugs), they’ve placed on him a lot here, we just had a weird go. Last night, my original horse couldn’t go, the next horse that came in was Dakota Rodeo’s War Rock. He and I have never gotten along together. It might be the one horse in the PRCA where our styles do not fit each other. I had a bad start on him. He took off on me, and it was because of me. I take full responsibility for that. I had a long talk with my coach. He pinpointed everything I knew that was going wrong. We fixed it tonight.”

Diaz ties saddle bronc riding Round 3 record
Saddle bronc rider Isaac Diaz knew he had a challenge out of the chute after drawing Sutton Rodeo’s South Point. But he also knew if he could match that challenge, he’d have a good shot at winning Round 3.
Diaz did what he had to do and not only won the round but also tied the Round 3 record with a 90-point ride on South Point.
“Yeah, that horse is a little tricky out of the chute, but after that she does everything you could ask in a bucking horse,” said the 32-year-old from Desdemona, Texas.
Diaz’s ride tied the round record set by Billy Etbauer in 1999 and equaled by Etbauer again in 2005.
“That horse is half the battle,” Diaz said. “I had him in Pendleton (Ore.), and it went well. They said South Point will take you to the South Point, and she did it last year for Jacobs Crawley, too.”
Crawley won aboard South Point in the third round.
Diaz is sitting fourth in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $161,970. Defending champion Ryder Wright leads the pack with $195,809.
“I try to not keep an eye on it (the standings), but the whole year has been unreal,” Diaz said. “If I can go into Round 10 with a shot at it, that would be a dream come true.”
With seven rounds remaining, Diaz is ready to keep working.
“It just motivates me,” Diaz said. “I have been working at it every day to stay in shape and stay focused, and this motivates me to continue and let God take care of the rest.”
Being at the Thomas & Mack Center and tying a round record left an impression with Diaz.
“There’s so much magic in that arena, you can hear the crowd go nuts,” he said.

Yates makes it back-to-back wins
A night after being aggressive and winning in 7.6 seconds, Marty Yates topped himself with a 7.0-second run to win Round 3 in tie-down roping.
More importantly, Yates climbed into the lead in the world standings.
The Stephenville, Texas, cowboy has cashed in for $75,788 through three rounds at the Wrangler NFR.
Just like in Round 2, Yates pointed to his start as the reason for his success in Round 3.
“This was an awesome run,” said Yates, 24. “Anytime you’re 7-flat it is a great run. My start started it all, and I had a great calf and went through the motions and tied her down.”
In three nights, Yates has eliminated a deficit of $50,094 and turned it into a lead of $4,176 over Tuf Cooper. Yates’ earnings for the 2018 season are up to $162,271.
“That’s the goal you have when you enter the first rodeo of the year,” Yates said of taking the lead. “That’s where you want to be. To be winning it in the third round is a dream come true, and I need to stick to the game plan and keep doing what I’m doing, and it will not change.”
His quick start at the 2018 Finals could help determine a world title.
“It’s nice to get tapped off like that here in this building, there’s not a better feeling,” he said. “When you know what’s coming and you know you’re in control, it is awesome.”

Guenthner wins steer wrestling in 3.3 seconds
Canadian Scott Guenthner moved into first place in the steer wrestling world standings after posting a 3.3-second time in Round 3 of the Wrangler NFR.
Guenthner, who also won Round 9 in 2017 in 3.3 seconds, has won $49,558 at the Finals this year and climbed into first place with $141,881.
“I just want to keep going for the round (wins) because if you back off, you’re not going to win the world,” Guenthner said.
This season is Guenthner’s second trip to the Finals. Last year, he finished sixth. A good portion of his winnings at those Finals came from that Round 9 win.
Going that fast again to get his second go-round win felt pretty good for the 27-year-old.
“You can’t even think about the start because if you do, you’re late,” Guenthner said. “I knew my steer was not as hard of a runner as the other ones, and I knew if I got a good start I would catch up and be good on the ground. It’s a cool feeling to have a run like that. A lot of guys have been here many years and not won a round, so to win a round is a privilege.”
Guenthner tipped his hat to his horsepower.
“I was riding Tyson, Curtis Cassidy’s horse,” Guenthner said. “I won the Canadian Finals Rodeo on him (in November). The first night here he (Tyson) wasn’t on his game, I’m not sure what was up, but he has been awesome since and he felt great tonight.”

Moore rides Paige to barrel racing victory
Amberleigh Moore had to give her horse Paige a layoff of more than four months over the summer run.
That hurt Moore’s position in the world standings. She still managed to qualify for the Wrangler NFR in 13th place.
Now, Paige is healthy, and Moore is winning.
The two combined for a 13.59-second run to win Round 3 and continue her climb, rising to third in the world with $166,819.
“Through most of March, I was sitting No. 1 in the world, and then I chose to step off her (Paige) for about four-and-a-half months to let some things heal up,” said Moore, of Salem, Ore. “I got her back Aug. 1, and I was slowly slipping in the standings. So, I headed back out on the road, and I feel extremely blessed to be here in the No. 13. I was just happy to get back and let her show what she can do.”
Paige has done plenty. The duo placed second in the first two rounds, before winning Round 3. No surprise, they are sitting first in the aggregate race.
“I am just trying to stay out of the way and let Paige do her job and see what we can get done,” Moore said. “There are still 21 barrels to turn here, and my motto has always been one run at a time. That’s what we are going to keep doing – one run at a time.”

Begay/Petska making most of roping together
Team roping header Derrick Begay and team roping heeler Cory Petska teamed this season with the intent of taking a nice, easy approach to the 2018 PRCA season.
Instead, the two found themselves in the thick of it and are now roping at the biggest rodeo in the world.
Begay and Petska stopped the clock in 4.0 seconds to win Round 3.
“It’s awesome,” Petska said about the win. “Anytime you can do good in one of the early rounds, it just kind of makes the rest of the week a little bit easier. Getting a win under our belt lets us breathe a little bit, not putting any real pressure on us and being like, ‘Let’s just go rope.’”
Not bad for a couple of guys who weren’t planning on trying to make the Finals, let alone winning rounds there.
“Derrick and I were both going to slow down,” Petska said. “Our goal this summer was to make enough rodeos to go to San Antonio this year. We were just going to go out for a month and go home. The month we went out we won $60,000, so we had to keep going.”
And they have. Begay is in sixth in the world standings in team roping heading with $121,068. Petska ranks fifth in the team roping heeling standings with $127,525.
The pair have really synched.
“We’ve been roping together for a while, and I kind of know how his style is,” Begay said. “He’s one of the fastest heelers out here, so he gives me a chance to take an extra swing and set the run up.”

Kimzey, Bingham split Round 3 win
Sage Kimzey and Tyler Bingham rodeoed together this year, logging plenty of miles and time together while traveling to their next bull ride.
So, it seemed appropriate when the pair tied for the Round 3 win on Saturday night.
Kimzey notched 88 points on Rosser Rodeo’s Custer, while Bingham had 88 on Salt River Rodeo’s Rocky Road.
“Heck, I always wish for everyone to ride their best, but I want to be a half-point better,” said Bingham, of Honeyville, Utah. “But Sage and I traveled the second half of the year, so that makes it awesome to win with him.”
Kimzey, the four-time reigning world champion, pretty much echoed those sentiments.
“I didn’t know how many points I would be, and I figured it would be close, but with Tyler traveling with me that is only fitting,” said Kimzey, of Strong City, Okla.
Kimzey had dominated the bull riding scene this year. And Saturday night added to that, as he upped his season total to $351,237. He leads second-place Parker Breding by $155,761.
Despite that lead, Kimzey isn’t letting up.
“It’s not like we are a calf roper and can take another swing,” he said. “There’s no safety-ing up in our event. I’ll just ride and react and try to stay on.”
While Kimzey chases gold buckle No. 5, Bingham is in his first Finals trip. He’s starting to get settled in.
“I was just so stoked,” Bingham said after his first Finals round win. “I had some butterflies in me, and they were gone after two rounds.”

60th annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo
Third Performance Results, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev.

Bareback riding: 1. Tim O’Connell, 88.5 points on Powder River Rodeo’s Craig At Midnight, $26,231; 2. Orin Larsen, 87, $20,731; 3. Steven Dent, 85.5, $15,654; 4. Bill Tutor, 85, $11,000; 5. Richmond Champion, 83.5, $6,769; 6. Kaycee Feild, 81.5, $4,231; 7. Will Lowe, 81; 8. Tilden Hooper, 79.5; 9. Wyatt Denny, 79; 10. Shane O’Connell, 77; 11. Caleb Bennett, 74; 12. Clayton Biglow, Jake Brown, Mason Clements and Ty Breuer, NS. Average standings: 1. Kaycee Feild, 253 points on three head; 2. Steven Dent, 251; 3. Tilden Hooper, 250; 4. Tim O’Connell, 248; 5. Will Lowe, 246.5; 6. (tie) Richmond Champion and Shane O’Connell, 244; 8. Bill Tutor, 239.5. World standings: 1. Tim O’Connell, $223,481; 2. Caleb Bennett, $187,928; 3. Clayton Biglow, $166,320; 4. Orin Larsen, $161,386; 5. Steven Dent, $155,805; 6. Kaycee Feild, $149,791; 7. Bill Tutor, $140,835; 8. Mason Clements, $139,151; 9. Richmond Champion, $136,588; 10. Tilden Hooper, $131,423; 11. Wyatt Denny, $113,728; 12. Jake Brown, $111,402; 13. Ty Breuer, $101,558; 14. Shane O’Connell, $94,393; 15. Will Lowe, $86,017.

Steer wrestling: 1. Scott Guenthner, 3.3 seconds, $26,231; 2. Ty Erickson, 4.0, $20,731; 3. Curtis Cassidy, 4.1, $15,654; 4. Hunter Cure, 4.3, $11,000; 5. (tie) Will Lummus, Tanner Brunner and Nick Guy, 4.6, $3,667 each; 8. Blake Knowles, 4.8; 9. Riley Duvall, 4.9; 10. Tyler Waguespack, 6.1; 11. Jacob Talley, 13.4; 12. Bridger Chambers, 15.3; 13. Tyler Pearson, Blake Mindemann and Kyle Irwin, NT. Average standings: 1. Will Lummus, 12.9 seconds on three head; 2. Blake Knowles, 13.0; 3. Hunter Cure, 13.5; 4. Tyler Waguespack, 13.9; 5. Bridger Chambers, 23.6; 6. Riley Duvall, 30.1; 7. Nick Guy, 36.9; 8. Tanner Brunner, 38.2. World standings: 1. Scott Guenthner, $141,881; 2. Tyler Pearson, $133,856; 3. Curtis Cassidy, $131,663; 4. Will Lummus, $128,125; 5. Ty Erickson, $124,623; 6. Tyler Waguespack, $121,315; 7. Hunter Cure, $118,037; 8. Blake Knowles, $106,188; 9. Bridger Chambers, $104,505; 10. Kyle Irwin, $98,660; 11. Tanner Brunner, $98,193; 12. Blake Mindemann, $93,592; 13. Jacob Talley, $90,717; 14. Nick Guy, $88,373; 15. Riley Duvall, $87,643.

Team roping: 1. Derrick Begay/Cory Petska, 4.0 seconds, $26,231 each; 2. (tie) Riley Minor/Brady Minor and Aaron Tsinigine/Trey Yates, 4.1, $18,192 each; 4. Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, 4.2, $11,000; 5. (tie) Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, Clay Smith/Paul Eaves and Luke Brown/Jake Long, 4.3, $3,667 each; 8. Clay Tryan/ Travis Graves, 4.6; 9. Rhen Richard/Quinn Kesler, 9.2; 10. Dustin Egusquiza/ Kory Koontz, 9.4; 11. Chad Masters/Joseph Harrison, 14.4; 12. Erich Rogers/Clint Summers, 16.6; 13. (tie) Tyler Wade/Cole Davison, Lane Ivy/Buddy Hawkins II and Bubba Buckaloo/Chase Tryan, NT. Average standings: 1. Kaleb Driggers/ Junior Nogueira, 13.4 seconds on three head; 2. Aaron Tsinigine/Trey Yates, 18.9; 3. Rhen Richard/Quinn Kesler, 19.5; 4. Clay Tryan/Travis Graves, 23.8; 5. Erich Rogers/Clint Summers, 27.0; 6. Derrick Begay/Cory Petska, 28.3; 7. (tie) Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, 8.3. World standings (headers): 1. Kaleb Driggers, $159,080; 2. Clay Smith, $155,242; 3. Cody Snow, $133,594; 4. Bubba Buckaloo, $127,990; 5. Clay Tryan, $122,785; 6. Derrick Begay, $121,068; 7. Aaron Tsinigine, $119,006; 8. Dustin Egusquiza, $116,396; 9. Luke Brown, $112,564; 10. Riley Minor, $109,746; 11. Chad Masters, $95,342; 12. Rhen Richard, $92,790; 13. Erich Rogers, $85,123; 14. Tyler Wade, $83,145; 15. Lane Ivy, $77,458. World standings (heelers): 1. Junior Nogueira, $160,062; 2. Paul Eaves, $155,242; 3. Trey Yates, $133,400; 4. Wesley Thorp, $129,904; 5. Cory Petska, $127,525; 6. Travis Graves, $118,928; 7. Kory Koontz, $116,396; 8. Joseph Harrison, $114,515; 9. Jake Long, $112,564; 10. Brady Minor, $108,553; 11. Chase Tryan, $107,406; 12. Clint Summers, $96,236; 13. Quinn Kesler, $88,906; 14. Cole Davison, $76,252; 15. Buddy Hawkins II, $74,451.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Isaac Diaz, 90 points on Sutton Rodeo’s South Point, $26,231; 2. Jake Wright, 89.5, $20,731; 3. Chase Brooks, 87, $15,654; 4. CoBurn Bradshaw, 86.5, $11,000; 5. (tie) Wade Sundell and Zeke Thurston, 86, $5,500 each: 7. Cort Scheer, 85.5; 8. Clay Elliott, 84.5; 9. (tie) Rusty Wright and Sterling Crawley, 83; 11. Taos Muncy, 80.5; 12. Jacobs Crawley, Ryder Wright, Brody Cress and Joey Sonnier III, NS. Average standings: 1. Cort Scheer, 264 points on three head; 2. Wade Sundell, 255; 3. Jake Wright, 254; 4. (tie) CoBurn Bradshaw and Zeke Thurston, 253; 6. Clay Elliott, 249.5; 7. Isaac Diaz, 168.5 points on two head; 8. Rusty Wright, 167.5. World standings: 1. Ryder Wright, $195,809; 2. Jacobs Crawley, $183,601; 3. Cort Scheer, $164,304; 4. Isaac Diaz. $160,970; 5. Rusty Wright, $151,800; 6. Zeke Thurston. $144,637; 7. Wade Sundell, $142,502; 8. Jake Wright, $128,287; 9. Brody Cress, $121,588; 10. CoBurn Bradshaw, $121,325; 11. Clay Elliott, $119,676; 12. Sterling Crawley, $108,748; 13. Chase Brooks, $101,795; 14. Joey Sonnier III, $89,114; 15. Taos Muncy, $88,790.

Tie-Down roping: 1. Marty Yates, 7.0 seconds, $26,231; 2. (tie) Jake Pratt, Sterling Smith and Rhen Richard, 7.3, $15,795 each; 5. Ryle Smith, 7.5, $6,769; 6. Caleb Smidt, 7.9, $4,231; 7. Matt Shiozawa, 8.1; 8. Shane Hanchey, 8.7; 9. Tyson Durfey, 9.3; 10. Trevor Brazile, 11.3; 11. Cooper Martin, 11.9; 12. Tuf Cooper, 14.5; 13. Cory Solomon, 17.3; 14. Reese Riemer, 17.8; 15. Ryan Jarrett, NT. Average standings: 1. Marty Yates, 22.6 seconds on three head; 2. Caleb Smidt, 23.3; 3. Ryle Smith, 24.2; 4. Rhen Richard, 25.3; 5. Tyson Durfey, 27.4; 6. Cooper Martin, 29.8; 7. Reese Riemer, 33.8; 8. Shane Hanchey, 34.7. World standings: 1. Marty Yates, $162,271; 2. Tuf Cooper, $158,095; 3. Shane Hanchey, $153,347; 4. Caleb Smidt, $151,163; 5. Tyson Durfey, $136,518; 6. Jake Pratt, $126,858; 7. Ryle Smith; $123,864; 8. Reese Riemer, $120,390; 9. Rhen Richard, $111,283; 10. Cory Solomon, $110,002; 11. Sterling Smith, $104,878; 12. Trevor Brazile, $102,772; 13. Cooper Martin, $101,938; 14. Matt Shiozawa, $96,269; 15. Ryan Jarrett, $87,552.

Barrel racing: 1. Amberleigh Moore, 13.59 seconds, $26,231; 2. Jessica Routier, 13.62, $20,731; 3. (tie) Stevi Hillman and Hailey Kinsel, 13.67, $13,327 each; 5. Kylie Weast, 13.70, $6,769; 6. Ivy Conrado, 13.74, $4,231; 7. Tammy Fischer, 13.86; 8. Carman Pozzobon, 13.87; 9. Jessie Telford, 13.88; 10. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 13.92; 11. Nellie Miller, 14.05; 12. Kelly Bruner, 14.31; 13. Lisa Lockhart, 18.66; 14. Taci Bettis, 18.83; 15. Tracy Nowlin, 23.84. Average standings: 1. Amberleigh Moore, 40.91 seconds on three head; 2. Hailey Kinsel, 41.15; 3. Kylie Weast, 41.26; 4. Ivy Conrado, 41.40; 5. Jessica Routier, 41.55; 6. Jessie Telford, 41.57; 7. Nellie Miller, 41.90; 8. Carman Pozzobon, 41.92 World standings: 1. Hailey Kinsel, $242,392; 2. Nellie Miller, $167,826; 3. Amberleigh Moore, $166,819; 4. Lisa Lockhart, $159,746; 5. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, $147,267; 6. Kylie Weast, $138,369; 7. Jessica Routier, $133,666; 8. Stevi Hillman, $133,559; 9. Ivy Conrado, $128,270; 10. Tracy Nowlin, $116,150; 110 Taci Bettis, $113,692; 12. Jessie Telford, $107,227; 13. Tammy Fischer, $101,277; 14. Kelly Bruner, $100,515; 15. Carman Pozzobon, $96,947.

Bull riding: 1. (tie) Sage Kimzey, 88 points on Rosser Rodeo’s Custer, Tyler Bingham, 88 points on Salt River Rodeo’s Rocky Road, $23,481 each; 3. Dustin Bouquet, 84.5, $15,654; 4. Jeff Askey, 83.5, $11,000; 5. Joe Frost, 83, $6,769; 6. Trey Benton III, 81.5, $4,231; 7. Parker Breding, 80.5; 8. Roscoe Jarboe, 76.5; 9. Trevor Kastner, 76; 10. Chase Dougherty, Boudreaux Campbell, Garrett Tribble, Cole Melancon, Eli Vastbinder, Koby Radley, NS. Average standings: 1. Joe Frost, 260 points on three head; 2. Sage Kimzey, 176 on two head; 3. Trey Benton III, 170; 4. Chase Dougherty, 168.5; 5. Parker Breding, 163; 6. Roscoe Jarboe, 162.5; 7. Tyler Bingham, 88 on one head; 8. Garrett Tribble, 85.5. World standings: 1. Sage Kimzey, $351,237; 2. Parker Breding, $195,476; 3. Joe Frost, $162,150; 4. Chase Dougherty, $151,644; 5. Trey Benton III, $141,393; 6. Dustin Bouquet, $140,241; 7. Tyler Bingham, $135,064; 8. Roscoe Jarboe, $130,737; 9. Koby Radley, $130,245; 10. Jeff Askey, $128,387; 11. Garrett Tribble, $118,995; 12. Boudreaux Campbell, $116,431; 13. Cole Melancon, $109,973; 14. Eli Vastbinder, $105,114; 15. Trevor Kastner, $104,396.
All-around world standings: 1. Tuf Cooper, $263,184; 2. Trevor Brazile, $244,154; 3. Rhen Richard, $192,647; 4. Steven Dent, $155,391; 5. Ryle Smith, $140,370; 6. Curtis Cassidy, $118,891; 7. Paul Tierney, $82,868; 8. Jordan Ketscher, $71,659; 9. Marcus Theriot, $64,759; 10. Dakota Eldridge, $60,005.

Comments are closed.