(Editor’s note: Story by Susan Kanode/Frontier Days)
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Tim O’Connell has won the world title in the bareback riding for the last three consecutive years. The last one came with a price. After his final ride at the NFR, he came off the horse and ended up underneath it. He tore his rotator cuff on his shoulder and had to have surgery.
He has missed nearly six months of competition and is making a comeback. He is currently 23rd in the world standings and is about $14,000 out of the top 15. He helped his cause significantly on Wednesday at Frontier Park. O’Connell rode Hi Lo Pro Rodeo’s horse named American Hustle for 89.5 points. That earned him nearly $3,000 and gave him a chance to ride again.
The 2016 CFD champion is hoping to make two more rides in Frontier Park. When the semifinals in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding and women’s barrel race starts on Friday, everyone has a clean slate. Another good score will see O’Connell back on Sunday with a chance to win a second title here.
J.J. Elshere from Hereford, South Dakota is hoping to add his name to the list of saddle bronc riding champions at Cheyenne Frontier Days.
He had an 87-point effort aboard Three Hills Rodeo’s horse named Tarnished Silver to win the round and advance from the quarter finals into the semifinals which starts on Friday. It was an important win for Elshere, who is making a bid for a fifth Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification. Prior to Cheyenne’s rodeo, he was 12th in the world standings and if he stays among the top 15 through September 30th, he will make the trip to Las Vegas to compete for rodeo’s world championship.
Elshere will now be competing at Cheyenne’s semifinals and, if he is successful, will move onto Sunday’s championship. He has competed at Cheyenne nearly every year since he joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 2000. He qualified for his first NFR six years later, missed a year, then had three consecutive qualifications starting in 2008.
In 2006, he had the highest total score on ten saddle bronc horses in Las Vegas and won the NFR championship. He and his wife Lindsay have four boys. After the 2010 NFR, Elshere decided he needed to spend more time with his family and less time riding bucking horses.
As the boys got older, the idea of qualifying for the NFR again became more attractive. Elshere finished one spot out of the top 15 last year. If he does get to compete in Las Vegas, he will celebrate his 40th birthday on opening night of the NFR. Just last week, his oldest son, Talon, finished in fourth place in the saddle bronc riding at the National High School Rodeo Finals. When that was over, the family headed home to work in the hayfield, and J.J. headed to the next rodeo.
The tie-down and break away roping, as well as steer wrestling and team roping will have a final set of contestants making a bid for the Championship Finals as well. They each compete twice and the four who win the most money in each event will advance. Rodeo action will begin at 1 p.m.
Unofficial results from Thursday, July 25, at the 123rd Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. Money earned is subject to change.
Bareback riding: 1, Tim O’Connell, Zwingle, Iowa, 89.5 points on Hi Lo ProRodeo’s American Hustle, $2,384. 2, Paden Hurst, Huntsville, Texas, 88, $1,788. 3, Clayton Biglow, Clements, Calif., 85.5, $1,192. 4, Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, 84.5, $595.
Breakaway Roping: 1, Jana Wiedman, Morrill, Neb., 4.20 seconds, $2,403.00. 2, Linsay Sumpter, Fowler, Colo., 5.30, $1,802. 3, Brook Jamison, Ashby, Neb., 6.18, $1,201.50. 4, Megan Morrison, Eaton, Colo., 6.21, $601. Finals qualifiers: 1, Hannah Lee, Durant, Okla., $2,603. 2, Wiedman, $2,403. 3,Chloe Frey, Eunice, La., 6.37, $2,003. 4, Sumpter, $1,802.
Tie-down Roping: 1, Tyler Thiel, Greeley, Colo., 12.9, $1,954. 2, Marcos Costa, Manard, Texas, 13.6, $1,465. 3, Lane Jeffrey, Wilburton, Okla., 13.9, $978. 4, Sterling Smith, Stephenville, Texas, 14.0, $488. Finals qualifiers: 1, Thiel, $2,931. 2, (tie) Costa and Anthony Jordan, Houston, Texas, $1,954 each. 4, Ryan Thibodeaux, Stephenville, Texas, $1,465.
Saddle Bronc Riding: 1, JJ Elshere, Hereford, S.D., 87 points on Three Hills Rodeo’s Tarnished Silver, $2,292. 2, Brody Cress, Hillsdale, Wyo., 85, $1,719. 3, Lefty Holman, Visalia, Calif., 84.5, $1,146. 4, Louie Brunson, New Underwood, S.D., 79, $573.
Team Roping: 1, Lane Ivy, Dublin, Texas, and Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., 8.7 seconds, $2,233 each. 2, J.B. James Jr., and Brock Hanson, Bennett, Colo., 10.5, $1,674 each. 3, Kaleb Driggers, Hoboken, Ga., and Junior Nogueira, Presidente Prude, Brazil, 10.6, $1,116 each. 4, Colton Campbell, Klamath Falls, Ore., and Dalton Pearce, San Luis Obispo, Calif., 11.5, $558. Finals qualifiers: 1, (tie) Ivy and de la Cruz, and Kelsey Parchman, Cumberland City, Tenn., and Matt Kasner, Cody, Neb., $2,233 each. 3, (tie) James Jr. and Hansen, and Jake Cooper, Monument, N.M., and Caleb Anderson, Mocksville, N.C., 9.2, $1,674 each.
Steer Wrestling: 1, Reed Kraeger, Elwood, Neb., 8.3 seconds, $1,411. 2, Kyle Whitaker, Chambers, Neb., 10.7, $1,058. 3, Jeff Johnston, Thedford, Neb., 11.7, $705. 4, Denard Butler, Checotah, Okla., 21.5, $353. Finals qualifiers: 1, (tie) Kraeger and Whitaker, $2,116 each. 3, Wyatt Lindsay, Cuchuillo, N.M., $1,411. 4, Johnston, $1,058.
Barrel Racing: 1, Nellie Miller, Cottonwood, Calif., 17.28 seconds, $2,611. 2, Lacinda Rose, Willard, Mo., 17.54, $1,958. 3, Cheyenne Wimberley, Stephenville, Texas, 17.57, $1,305. 4, Kellie Collier, Hereford, Texas, 17.64, $653.
Bull Riding: (three rides) 1, Tristan Mize, Bryan, Texas, 88 points on Rafter G Rodeo’s Freddy Fender, $3,058. 2, Ruger Piva, Challis, Idaho, 82.5, $2,552. 3, Nick Kaczmar, Lake Wales, Fla., $1,647.
Rookie Saddle Bronc Riding: (first round leaders) 1 (tie), Jacob Kammerer, Philip, S.D., and Carter Elshere, Elm Spring, S.D., 78 points each. 3, (tie) Jade Taton, Goodwell, Okla., and Trent Burd, Fort Scott, Kan., 76. 5, Will Reynolds, Goodwell, Okla., 74. 6, Brett Fanning, Martin, S.D., and Lane Schuelke, Newell, S.D., 70. (second round leaders) 1, Rowdy Chesser, Goodwell, Okla., 75 points. 2, Kammerer, 74. 3, Cooper Thatcher, Australia, 72. 4, Tyler Beebe, Rocky Ford, Colo., 69. 5, Jake Foster, Meadow, S.D., 68. 6, Calvin Shaffer, Elgin, Ore., 67. (total on two) 1, Kammerer, 152 points. 2, Schuelke, 157. 3, (tie) Fanning and Cody Ballard, Goodwell, Okla., 127. 5, (tie) Shaffer and Thatcher, 124.
Wild Horse Race: 1, BMC West Construction, $644. 2, Team Crazy Horse, $483. 3, TJ Kerr Team, $483. 4, Billy Scharton, $161. (total money leaders) 1, (tie) Copper State Cowboys and BMC West Construction, $1127. 3, Shockers, $966. 4, S-WA.GIMA, $805.