BY DAVE SOUTHORN
It has been a trying season for record-setting tie-down roper Cody Ohl, but he got a boost Saturday night in Caldwell with one of his heroes in the stands.
Ohl, a six-time world champion, entered the final round at the Caldwell Night Rodeo ranked 48th in the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association standings, battling knee and hamstring injuries since June’s Reno Rodeo.
Feeling as good as he has in two months, Ohl won the CNR championship with a 25.1-second total on three head.
When given the set of spurs presented to the winners, the Hico, Texas, cowboy handed them to 85-year-old Dean Oliver. An eight-time world champion roper, Oliver is a Greenleaf native.
“I think about him all the time. It makes me try harder knowing my hero, my everything is there coming out to see me rope,” Ohl said.
A “roller coaster” summer hit a high point with Ohl’s win Saturday, considering his health returning to normal, one of his idols on hand and the pivotal late-season timing.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” he said. “... This is my favorite rodeo to be at on a Saturday night. It’s how it should be.”
Though Ohl’s had a tough season, most of the rodeo’s winners continued to climb in the top 10 of the world rankings.
SADDLE BRONC RIDING
Inside the arena and out of it, Taos Muncy is comfortable when he’s at the Caldwell Night Rodeo.
The Corona, N.M. saddle bronc rider’s mother-in-law lives near Eagle, so his visit feels a little like home. It no doubt helps him feel nice and calm in the saddle, too. Muncy won his second straight CNR championship Saturday, posting a two-round total of 166 after an 82 in the final round. He had a 165 last year in Caldwell.
A two-time world champion, Muncy entered the night ranked No. 3 in the PRCA standings. He won the St. Paul (Ore.) Rodeo on July 4 and has earned checks consistently, but he didn’t get another win until Saturday.
“It means a little more to win this one,” Muncy said. “... I needed this. It’s a big confidence booster.”
Clint Laye took his first CNR championship with the top ride of the entire week, saving the best for last, posting an 87 on Craig At Midnight for a 167 total.
Ranked 10th in the PRCA world standings, the Cadogan, Alberta, native has had a “life-changing” summer. Saturday’s win capped a nice 24 hours for Laye, who won in Burley on Friday, too.
“Idaho’s treated me really good this year,” said Laye, who also won the Caribou County Rodeo in Grace.
Already having a great season, Trevor Knowles knew Caldwell was an important event — and one where he hadn’t qualified for the final round since 2008.
Knowles, fifth in the PRCA standings, was efficient and consistent on all three attempts during the week, posting a 4.3-second mark in the finals for a three-head total of 12.7 seconds, nearly 3 seconds better than any other competitor.
“It’s big, because there are a lot of rodeos right now, but not many like this where you can stack some money and move up the ladder,” the Mt. Vernon, Ore. native said.
Chad Masters, ranked third in the world as a header, and Travis Graves, fourth among heelers, continued their strong 2015 campaign, notching a 4.9-second mark. On three head, their 14.7-second total earned them the CNR title. Graves (Jay, Okla.) roped last season with the legendary Trevor Brazile, finishing second in the world in December. Masters (Cedar Hill, Tenn.), a two-time world champ, won the 2009 Snake River Stampede with then-partner Jade Corkill.
None of the 10 qualifiers that reached Saturday’s final round completed an 8-second ride, so by virtue of his 88-point ride Thursday, Aaron Pass earned the CNR title. Pass, of Dallas, came into the week ranked 16th in the PRCA standings, one position out of the coveted top 15 and a National Finals Rodeo bid.
Kimmie Wall, of Roosevelt, Utah, came into the week ranked 32nd, but gave herself a big boost with a 17.12-second mark for a three-ride total of 49.83 seconds