Veteran Tim O’Connell shines in Tucson

Tim O’Connell’s resume reflects his resilience and dedication. The bareback rider boasts three world titles and has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo nine times. However, at age 31, he is approaching this season differently.

“I am just enjoying the process more, really. In the past, I was so narrowly focused on the world title and not caring about the journey. It has changed,” O’Connell said. “I know I am on the short end of my career. I am enjoying it more.”

That was easy to do on a cool Sunday at the La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros in Tucson, Ariz. O’Connell rallied from third place after the first round to win the bareback average at the Playoff Series stop with a score of 185 points, pocketing $4,664 for his excellence. O’Connell rode Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Anything Goes to a rugged 81 for the crown.

“It was a fight, really. She got me a lot of the points. She was big and strong today and had some great moves,” O’Connell said. “I have been on her three different times. She is tough. She will hit you in the back and test you. It wasn’t my prettiest ride, that’s for sure. But I was really excited about that draw coming in. It wasn’t my best, but I will take it.”

O’Connell knows the nomad lifestyle of the road. And he rolls up his sleeves at home to make the rodeos. He was in the truck with four other cowboys on the way to RodeoHouston as he talked about his win. These are the moments he wants to remember as much as the time in the arena.

“It’s all part of it. The process. The challenge. The fight. You know it’s never going to be easy out here. I love it. I put in the grind because I always want to put my best foot forward for those eight seconds,” O’Connell said. “Some days it works great. Some days it doesn’t. Sometimes you win the fight. Today, it wasn’t easy. But with a horse like this, I knew I had a chance. And it all worked out.”

Other winners at the $338,955 rodeo were all-around cowboy Brushton Minton ($2,663, tie-down roping and steer wrestling); steer wrestler Dalton Massey (16.5 seconds on three head); team ropers Joshua Torres/Dylin Ahlstrom (9.6 seconds on two head); saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston (176.5 points on two head); tie-down roper Hagen Houck (17.9 seconds on two head); barrel racer Jimmie Smith-Tew (34.55 seconds on two runs); bull rider Ky Hamilton (174.5 points on two head).

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