Tim O’Connell, riding Chilly Lounge, scores a 79.5 in bareback bronc riding during this year’s final performance at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo on Saturday at the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in Fort Worth. Bob Haynes Special to the Star-Telegram
Team ropers Paul Eaves, Clay Smith are clutch in final
Saddle bronc champ Jake Wright has biggest payday
Tim O’Connell hangs tough for bareback title
BY BRETT HOFFMAN
Special to the Star-Telegram
Paul Eaves has earned a coveted Wrangler National Finals Rodeo back number four times.
The Millsap cowboy is well aware that in order to qualify for the Las Vegas championships, he must consistently finish in the money at rodeos across North America throughout the regular season of traveling to about 75 rodeos.
He also has learned that a runner-up or third-place finish in a rodeo is a feat to feel great about.
Though he and his partner, Clay Smith, entered the Stock Show Rodeo final round on Saturday night leading the title race in team roping, Eaves said he would have been happy to have finished second or third.
But when the title was at stake, Eaves and Smith turned in a solid time of 5.5 seconds en route to clinching the overall title as the 2016 Fort Worth Rodeo concluded its 16-day run Saturday night before more than 5,700 spectators during a sold-out performance at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
OBVIOUSLY, WE WANTED TO WIN THE RODEO, BUT FINISHING SECOND OR THIRD WOULD HAVE BEEN GOOD, TOO, BECAUSE IT PAYS REALLY GOOD.
Paul Eaves, who with partner Clay Smith won the team roping title
Eaves, a heeler, and Smith, a header from Broken Bow, Okla., who qualified for his first National Finals last year, clinched the title after finishing the 29-performance rodeo with a three-run time of 14.9 seconds. Zac Small and Wesley Thorp finished runner up with a 15.1.
“I think it took 5.6 to win it,” Eaves said. “Obviously, we wanted to win the rodeo, but finishing second or third would have been good, too, because it pays really good. So, we weren’t trying to run over ourselves.”
By winning the Fort Worth rodeo Eaves and Smith each earned $12,493.
Other champions were Tim O’Connell, Zwiggle, Iowa, bareback riding; Matt Reeves, Cross Plains, steer wrestling; Jake Wright, Milford, Utah, saddle bronc riding; Ivy Conrado, Hudson, Colo., barrel racing; Riker Carter, Stone, Idaho, bull riding; and Ryle Smith, Oakdale, Calif., tie-down roping.
WHEN IT CAME TIM O’CONNELL’S TIME FOR HIS LAST RIDE IN BAREBACK BRONC RIDING, HE HAD TO TURN IN A SCORE OF AT LEAST 79. HE POSTED A 79.5.
With the saddle bronc riding title, Wright earned $16,375, most among all competitors at the Fort Worth Rodeo.
With the tie-down roping title, Smith earned $15,372. The early-season victory will be a big boost as Smith attempts to earn his first National Finals berth.
In bareback riding, O’Connell, a two-time NFR qualifier, entered the final round with a seven-point lead. He had a three-ride score of 253. Orin Larsen was second with a 246 and Caleb Bennett was third with a 245.
Bennett made a strong move toward winning the title by turning in an 87. Larson posted an 81.
When it came O’Connell’s time to ride, he had to turn in a score of at least 79. He posted a 79.5.
After the dust settled, O’Connell clinched the title with a four-ride score of 333. All in all, O’Connell earned $12,070.
Bennett finished second overall with a 332 on four rides. Larsen, who turned in an 81 in the final round, finished third with a 327.
In the steer wrestling final, Reeves said he knew he had to make sure that he did not break the barrier, which meant he had to give the steer a designated head start. Reeves was aware that he had a steer that would leave the box slower than average. With that in mind, Reeves made sure that he did not leave the box too fast.
Reeves timed his departure from the box well and took hold of the animal close to the box. After making a fast catch, Reeves posted a final-round time of 4.1, the fastest in the short round.
Reeves clinched the title with a three-run time of 13.0. Jason Thomas of Benton, Ark., finished second with a 14.4. After clinching the title, Reeves earned $15,207.
Decatur roper makes fast move into Fort Worth Rodeo finals
Clint Cooper’s time of 9.0 second looks to best good enough
Top 12 in each event advance to Stock Show finals
Saturday afternoon performance last chance to qualify
The Fort Worth Stock Show rodeo will come to an end with two performances Saturday at Will Rogers Memorial Coleseum. Richard W. Rodriguez Star-Telegram
BY BRETT HOFFMAN
Special to the Star-Telegram
When a tie-down roping finals berth was at stake at the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo, five-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Clint Cooper knew what he had to do.
Cooper, from Decatur, had turned in a speedy time of 8.7 seconds against his first-round calf. And he knew he had to produce a similar time in order to qualify for the finals.
Cooper rose to the occasion and posted a solid 9.0 Friday afternoon at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. That pushed his two-run aggregate time to 17.7 seconds, which should easily advance him to the finals.
“I was just trying to be fast,” Cooper said. “When I try to rope aggressive, it seems to work in my favor. I knew I had a good calf.”
The top 12 in each event will advance to Saturday night’s final round. The finals field will be completed during Saturday afternoon’s 2 p.m. performance. However, the field is pretty well set at this point.
Cooper is ranked third in the title race with the 17.7. Jordan Ketscher is ranked No. 1 with a 17.0 and Clint Robinson is No. 2 with a 17.4.
A look at other events:
Team roping: Clay Smith, who qualified for his first National Finals last year, and Paul Eaves, a four-time NFR qualifier, are ranked No. 1 with a two-run time of 9.4. They took the lead Sunday with a time of 3.9 seconds to tie a Stock Show arena record. With the 9.4, they own a half-second lead over former NFR qualifiers Luke Brown and Jake Long, who are ranked No. 2 with a 9.9.
Bareback riding: Orin Larsen, who competed at the NFR for the first time last year, is ranked No. 1 with a three-ride score of 246.5. Caleb Bennett, a four-time NFR qualifier, is ranked No. 2 with a 245.
Bull riding: Brazilian Ednei Caminhas, the 2002 Professional Bull Riders world champion, is ranked No. 1 with a 168.5, four points ahead of Trevor Kastner who is No. 2 with a 164.
Steer wrestling: Five-time NFR qualifier Matt Reeves is ranked No. 1 with a two-run time of 8.9. Brother Loud is ranked No. 2 with a 9.6.
Barrel racing: Kammie Wall is ranked No. 1 with a two-run time of 33.53. Tiany Schuster is ranked No 2 with a 33.54.
Saddle bronc riding: Four-time NFR qualifier Jake Wright is ranked No. 1 with a two-ride tally of 166.5. Three other cowboys are tied for second with a 162. They are Joey Sonnier III, Dalton Davis and Sterling Crawley.
Ruling boots some
Competitors who are part of the newly formed Elite Rodeo Athletes were denied a trip to the Stock Show Rodeo finals after losing an antitrust lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
Five-time NFR qualifier, Cort Scheer, for example, who had a lofty two-ride saddle bronc riding score of 164 and was expected to make the finals, was disqualified because of his association with the ERA.
The ERA lost a bid for an injunction against the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, which immediately enforced new bylaws denying membership to ERA shareholders and competitors this year.
Rodeo sensation Trevor Brazile going into Texas Sports Hall of Fame
Brazile is the fourth rodeo cowboy in the Hall of Fame
He’s competing in the Fort Worth Stock Show this week
He has 23 world titles, including 13 all-around belts
BY BRETT HOFFMAN
Special to the Star-Telegram
Trevor Brazile, who holds a record 23 world titles in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, is among the eight-man Class of 2016 who will be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday night in Waco.
The rest of the class includes former Texas point guard T.J. Ford, former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Larry Allen, former Texas football coach Fred Akers, former New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, former Chicago/St. Louis Cardinals All-Pro lineman Ken Gray, former Texas A&M standout defensive lineman Jacob Green and the late longtime Negro League pitcher “Smokey” Joe Williams.
The induction banquet is 6 p.m. at the Waco Convention Center.
Brazile, who is competing in the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo this week, is among four legendary pro rodeo competitors who have been elected to the state hall. The others are eight-time world champion bull rider Don Gay, seven-time world all-around champion Ty Murray, and seven-time tie-down roping world champion Toots Mansfield.
Brazile, 39, is a native of Amarillo who grew up near Krum and lives in Decatur. As a PRCA competitor, he earned world all-around titles in 2002-04, 2006-15, tie-down roping championships in 2007, 2009-10, steer roping gold buckles in 2006-07, 2011, 2013-15 and finished No. 1 in team roping heading in 2007.
Brazile, who turned pro in 1996, is the only cowboy who has earned a National Finals Rodeo berth in all four roping events — tie-down roping, steer roping, team roping heading and team roping heeling. He has a record 48 National Finals qualifications.
Today, Brazile competes on the rodeo circuit alongside his wife Shada, a barrel racer who qualified for the National Finals in 2013. They have three younger children, a son, Treston, and daughters Style and Swayzi.
Brazile is also a member of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Fort Worth.
What are your thoughts about being elected to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame? It’s such a great honor, not only for the accomplishments within our sport of rodeo, it helps rodeo become more recognized by the mainstream. The more exposure we can get for our sport, the better.
How did your family react to the news? They were just excited about it. To me, it’s great to be inducted into a rodeo hall of fame, but this is much bigger. When you are talking about sports in general, such as baseball, football, it’s just a great honor to be part of that. Obviously, it’s a chance to rub shoulders with other athletes from mainstream sports.
Have you already written a speech? I’m not good at preparing a speech. I would say I’m more of an impromptu kind of guy.
What would you rate as your greatest accomplishment in competition? Looking back, it would probably be the Triple Crown years [in 2007 and 2010]. I not only won the all-around, but I won individual event titles, meaning I beat guys who specialize in one event. The years I won single event world titles in addition to the all-around stand out.
There are only four rodeo cowboys, including yourself, in the TSHOF. Who do you think might be next? I don’t think any other sport is represented by this state more so than rodeo. It wouldn’t be hard to find the next great inductee because there are so many great cowboys and cowgirls.
What’s your thoughts on being the face of rodeo? I kept thinking, the longer I did it, the easier it would be. I just see myself as one of the guys. I still look up to so many guys that I’ve always looked up to in the industry. That part doesn’t change.
Who are your favorite athletes? Growing up, it was the Michael Jordan era. And being from this area, it was Troy Aikman or Emmitt Smith. Nowadays, I admire local athletes like Dirk Nowitzki. I think he is going to be huge in latter decades. It’s cool to be able to watch those sports and to have guys like that competing.
Outside of yourself, who would you say is the best rodeo competitor, regardless of the event, you’ve ever seen? When you think of sheer dominance, it probably would be (18-time world steer roping champion) Guy Allen.
What is your favorite rodeo? You have the historic rodeos such as Cheyenne (Wyo.), Pendleton (Ore.), Salinas (Calif.), and the winter rodeos such as Fort Worth and Houston that just have a certain type of nostalgia about them. That has its own place. But there are rodeos such as The American (at AT&T Stadium in Arlington) that are so new and exciting and they are part of the sport’s evolution. I appreciate both worlds.