LOUISVILLE, Ky. – There’s just something about Freedom Hall that brings out the best in Jon Ragatz.  The 32-year-old steer wrestler won his fourth average title in six years at the Nov. 8-10 Ram Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo and is starting to feel quite at home here.

            “It’s just a great rodeo in Louisville and it seems like every time I go down there I have quite a bit of luck,” said Ragatz, who also won the year-end circuit title. “It always seems like guys have those certain rodeos where they do well, and this is that rodeo for me. I’ve been there five times now and won the average four of those times.”

            Ragatz (pronounced Ra-GATS) was in the uncomfortable position of being somewhere in between strategies before the rodeo started. He led Tyler Harris by just $189 for the year-end title, so he didn’t want to let Harris pass him. But at the same time, he wanted to win the average.

            “It’s a catch-22: You don’t want to back off too much to where you aren’t getting good starts,” he said. “On the other hand, you don’t want to be too aggressive to the point where you take yourself out of the year-end race. There is a happy medium there you have to follow.”

            After a time of 5.7 seconds in the first round, Ragatz found himself 1.4 seconds behind round-winner Nick Guy. But he wasn’t concerned, coming back with a 4.5-second run to win the second round and put himself in good position for his fourth average title.

“In my first run I didn’t get the start I wanted, but I had won the second round there two or three times before, so I knew I could rebound,” the Beetown, Wis., native said. “After I won the second round again this time I wasn’t too nervous for the last round, and I knew I just needed to score well in it.”

            Ragatz threw his last steer down in 4.5 seconds to place second in the third round and cruise to the average title by 2.2 seconds over Jacob Burks.

            Along with total earnings of $4,374 for the weekend, he earned the right to head back to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City next spring after missing out last season.

            For a circuit cowboy who ranches for a living and has two young sons – Toay, 3, and Teddy, 1½ – going to OKC is as good as it gets.

“Being able to go and get away to that big of a rodeo and have the chance to compete for that amount of money is always something that I appreciate,” he said.

            The other winners at the $121,123 rodeo were all-around cowboys Adam Rose and Kadin Boardman ($1,346 each, team roping and tie-down roping), bareback rider Logan Corbett (244 points on three head), team ropers Troy Kitchener and Chad Mathes (20.6 seconds on three head), saddle bronc rider Louie Brunson (229 points on three head), tie-down roper Jody Green (26.8 seconds on three head), barrel racer Natalie Foutch (47.62 seconds on three runs) and bull rider Danny Schlobohm (230 points on three head).