By Ruth Nicolaus/for the Inter-State Rodeo committee
COFFEYVILLE, Kan. – Tim O’Connell can handle pain.
The bareback rider shared first place with traveling partner Winn Ratliff at the Inter-State Rodeo on Aug. 15, despite having to compete with a recently broken left hand.
Six weeks ago, he broke the third metacarpal in half, from his knuckle to his wrist, and tore two ligaments and sprained three tendons in his front knuckle, all on his riding hand, in a bareback riding accident in Canada.
The Zwingle, Iowa, cowboy had been ranked number two in the world for two months prior to the accident, and it was a tough injury, right in the middle of the busiest part of the rodeo season. He sat out of competition for four weeks to let it heal.
“It was a hard month,” he said, “sitting at home, watching me go all the way from second to 13th (in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings.) I finally said, ‘you know what, it’s either time to get on the bus or get off.’”
So, O’Connell came back to rodeo competition in time for the Sikeston, Mo., rodeo in early August, but he wasn’t mentally ready. He was bucked off his horse, because he was thinking about the injured hand.
“To be honest, I was thinking about (the hand) when I was riding instead of going out there and doing my job,” he said.
Since then, he’s ridden for 83 points in Hermiston, Ore., in Fergus Falls, Minn., and Saturday night in Coffeyville; Ratliff, who has been traveling partners with O’Connell since May, had beaten him in Hermiston and Fergus Falls with 84 point rides.
“Winn has been borrowing my shirts, and I think he took my lucky one,” O’Connell joked.
O’Connell rode Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Forward Motion, while Ratliff rode the Beutler horse named Rage. O’Connell qualified for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) last year; Ratliff has been to two of them, in 2012 and 2014.
Ratliff entered the week ranked 11th in the world standings, and the money won this weekend should help him move up even higher.
Ratliff loves to rodeo this time of year, even though the rodeo season is nearly over and cowboys are tired, worn out and physically drained.
“This time of year, I enjoy rodeo,” he said. “I love going. It’s a chance to earn money, and this is part of my job.”
Ratliff, who is 26 and a native of Leesville, La., loves traveling with O’Connell, who is 23. “I’ve always admired his style and it’s always motivated me. No matter where we’re at, I always enjoy watching him ride, because he gets my motor running. We’re competing in the same event, and we’re trying to give it our best. I’ve always said, if you have good traveling partners it makes being on the road easier.”
The saddle bronc riding title was also split two ways. Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb., and Roper Kiesner, Ripley, Okla., each scored 80 points. Dent, a seven-time WNFR qualifier as a bareback rider, won the all-around title in Coffeyville last year, winning the bareback riding and placing eighth in the saddle bronc riding. Dent did not compete in the bareback riding in Coffeyville this year.
Kiesner, who is 21, grew up traveling across the nation with the Kiesner Family Wild West Revue, which included his parents, Phillip and Julie, and his older brother, Rider. Roper’s part of the entertainment was as a trick rider. He began riding saddle broncs less than three years ago, and credits trick riding for shortening the learning curve in mastering saddle bronc riding, and says that the skills used in trick riding translate to riding saddle broncs.
“Staying moving, and working through my problems,” is what has helped him on horseback. He began Roman riding a team of Shetlands as a youngster. “A lot of times, while I was Roman riding, I’d slip a foot between the horses and I was able to work my way out of the problem. Stuff happens fast when you’re riding broncs and trick riding, and trick riding from a young age has helped me to think through my actions.”
Coffeyville, Kan., Aug. 12-15
All-around cowboy: Zeb Chapman, $2,664, tie-down roping and team roping.
Bareback riding: 1. (tie) Tim O'Connell on Beutler & Son Rodeo's Forward Motion and Winn Ratliff on Beutler & Son Rodeo's Rage, 83 points, $1,627 each; 3. Blaine Kaufman, 79, $1,010; 4. Caine Riddle, 78, $673; 5. (tie) Will Lowe and Joel Schlegel, 77, $337 each.
Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Noah Lassa, 4.0 seconds, $1,238; 2. Zac Parrington, 4.1, $1,025; 3. Garet Farney, 4.2, $811; 4. Kyle Whitaker, 4.3, $598; 5. Tyler Pearson, 4.5, $384; 6. Stockton Graves, 4.6, $214. Second round: 1. Justin Morehouse, 3.6 seconds, $1,238; 2. Joey Bell Jr., 4.1, $1,025; 3. (tie) J.D. Struxness and Caleb Buchanan, 4.2, $705 each; 5. Riley Duvall, 4.4, $384; 6. Cody Metsker, 4.5, $214. Average: 1. (tie) Tyler Pearson and Cody Metsker, 9.7 seconds on two head, $1,697 each; 3. (tie) Kyle Whitaker and Caleb Buchanan, 9.8, $1,057 each; 5. Royce Johnson, 10.1, $576; 6. Stockton Graves, 10.3, $320.
Team roping: First round: 1. (tie) Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward and Dylan Gordon/Gage Williams, 5.6 seconds, $808 each; 3. Zac Small/Tyler Worley, 5.7, $579; 4. Payden Emmett/Brye Crite, 6.0, $427; 5. Dustin Morgan/Jake Smith, 6.3, $274; 6. Mike Bacon/Joseph Harrison, 6.5, $152. Second round: 1. Brandon Vaske/Braden Harmon, 4.9 seconds, $884 each; 2. Zeb Chapman/Michael Bratton, 5.2, $732; 3. Casey Hicks/Tanner Ward, 5.5, $579; 4. (tie) Brett Christensen/Chase Boekhaus and Jimmy Tanner/Shawn Harris, 5.9, $351 each; 6. Gable Hilderbrand/Chase McAlvain, 6.0, $152. Average: 1. Dylan Gordon/Gage Williams, 12.5 seconds on two head, $1,326 each; 2. Jimmy Tanner/Shawn Harris, 12.6, $1,097; 3. Will Clark/Cody Andrews, 13.1, $869; 4. Ty Bryant/Raylen Stueve, 13.5, $640; 5. Brandon Vaske/Braden Harmon, 15.6, $412; 6. Mike Bacon/Joseph Harrison, 17.1, $229.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. (tie) Steven Dent on Beutler & Son Rodeo's Painted Flower and Roper Kiesner on Beutler & Son Rodeo's Night Latch, 80 points, $1,714 each; 3. (tie) Cody Wright and Heith DeMoss, 79, $905 each; 5. Doug Aldridge, 77, $453; 6. (tie) Will Smith and Bradley Harter, 75, $291 each; 8. (tie) Curtis Garton, Garet Aldridge and David Martin, 74, $65 each.
Tie-down roping: First round: 1. Ryan Watkins, 8.7 seconds, $1,347; 2. Cole Wilson, 9.4, $1,115; 3. Chris Neal, 9.6, $883; 4. (tie) Zeb Chapman, Blake Ash and Tylen Layton, 9.9, $434 each. Second round: 1. Jerome Schneeberger, 8.7 seconds, $1,347; 2. (tie) L.D. Meier, GlennJackson Glasper, Ethan Hill and Perry Dietz, 8.9, $767 each; 6. Ryan Watkins, 9.1, $232. Average: 1. Ryan Watkins, 17.8 seconds on two head, $2,021; 2. (tie) David Moore and Zeb Chapman, 20.0, $1,498 each; 4. (tie) Bryson Sechrist and Blake Ash, 20.7, $801 each; 6. Ethan Hill, 20.9, $348.
Barrel racing: 1. Paige Willis, 17.38 seconds, $2,008; 2. Bailee Snow, 17.60, $1,721; 3. (tie) Kim Couch and Natalie Foutch, 17.65, $1,338 each; 5. Lauren Magdeburg, 17.69, $956; 6. (tie) PJ Burger, Taylor Langdon and Jeannie McKee, 17.70, $574 each; 9. Marne Loosenort, 17.78, $287; 10. Jaime Newcomer, 17.80, $191.
Steer roping: First round: 1. J.P. Wickett, 11.4 seconds, $958; 2. Jay Sellers, 12.1, $793; 3. Tyrel Taton, 12.5, $628; 4. Luke Bland, 12.6, $462; 5. Guy Allen, 12.8, $297; 6. (tie) Joe O'Rourke and Joe Wells, 13.0, $83 each. Second round: 1. (tie) Brodie Poppino and Bryce Davis, 11.0 seconds, $875 each; 3. Joe Wells, 12.9, $628; 4. Marty Poppino, 13.1, $462; 5. Kash Mangus, 13.2, $297; 6. Brad Mohon, 13.3, $165. Average: 1. Brodie Poppino, 24.1 seconds on two head, $1,437; 2. Joe Wells, 25.9, $1,189; 3. Neal Wood, 27.9, $941; 4. Brad Mohon, 28.4, $694; 5. Thomas Smith, 28.9, $446; 6. Luke Bland, 30.6, $248.
Bull riding: 1. Trevor Reiste, 72 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo's Voodoo Craft, $2,009; 2. Jory Markiss, 70, $1,541; 3. Josh Cain, 66, $1,139; 4. Garrett Tribble, 64, $737; no other qualified rides.
Total payoff: $93,915. Stock contractor: Beutler & Son Rodeo. Rodeo secretary: Vickie Shireman. Officials: Skip Emmett and Chuck Hoss. Timers: Tammy Braden and Vickie Shireman. Announcer: Justin McKee. Specialty act: Mark Swingler. Bullfighters: Kyle Lippincott and Wolverine Burelle. Clown/barrelman: Mark Swingler. Flankman: Justin Rumford. Chute bosses: Bennie Beutler and Bronc Rumford. Pickup men: Shandon Stalls and Butch Braden Jr..