The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit was unusually busy during the Independence Day Week, the time of the season called Cowboy Christmas when there was an abundance of higher paying rodeos either on or very near July 4.
Some of the standout rodeos were in Prescott, Ariz. (which began June 28 and ran through July 4), Ponoka, Alberta (June 27-July 3), St. Paul, Ore. (June 30-July 4), Greeley, Colo. (June 27-29 and July 1-3) and Cody, Wyo. (July 1-4).
As I read about each of the Independence Day larger rodeos on prorodeo.com, I noticed a common thread: several competitors had the thrill of earning a second title.
At the St. Paul Rodeo, for example, Charly Crawford of Prineville, Ore., and Joseph Harrison of Overbrook, Okla., clinched the team roping title. According to the PRCA, Crawford also clinched the team roping heading title at St. Paul in 2006.
Winning the St. Paul Rodeo was special for Crawford, an eight-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who grew up near St. Paul (about a half-hour south of Portland).
“I grew up right down the road in Canby, and I’ve been coming to this rodeo as long as I can remember,” Crawford told the PRCA. “I’ve junior rodeoed and peewee rodeoed right here.”
Crawford, who is from of Prineville, Ore., and Harrison, an Overbrook, Okla., cowboy, turned in an arena record time of 4.1 seconds to win the first round. They were a tenth of a second faster than the old mark of 4.2 that had been set twice, once by Joe Beaver and Tom Bourne in 2001, followed by Ty Blasingame and Cody Hintz in 2010. On their second run, Crawford and Harrison notched a time of 5.7 seconds en route to winning the average with two-run time of 9.8.
After earning $8,332 at the St. Paul rodeo, Crawford was ranked 11th in the PRCA’s 2017 team roping heading world standings last week with $40,099 in regular season earnings.
In bareback riding at the St. Paul Rodeo, Tim O’Connell, the PRCA’s 2016 champion bareback rider, scored 89.5 points on Bridwell Pro Rodeo’s Sacred Nation to win the rodeo, and a check for $10,892. He erased the previous arena best of 88 points, set by three different cowboys: Bruce Ford in 1989, Wes Stevenson in 2002, and Steven Dent in 2012.
The win was O’Connell’s second-consecutive victory at St. Paul, following an 87-point ride a season ago.
O’Connell has been the dominant bareback rider throughout the 2017 regular season. He was ranked No. 1 in last week’s bareback riding world standings with $115,830. Tanner Aus was ranked No. 2 with $80,742.
In Ponoka, bareback rider Jake Vold, a hometown cowboy, won the prestigious rodeo for the second time in his career. Vold’s latest victory came when he had an 88.75-point ride on Wayne Vold’s Mucho Dinero in the four-man Showdown.
Vold first won the Ponoka Stampede in 2013 with a 91.5-point ride on Calgary Stampede’s Stampede Warrior. Vold, who now lives in Airdrie, Alberta, earned $17,579 at the 2017 Ponoka rodeo.
“This win (July 3) at Ponoka was greatly needed,” Vold, a two-time National Finals qualifier, told the PRCA. “I really needed a big weekend and this sure helps. This is a phenomenal feeling. This is my hometown and this is my second win at Ponoka and it’s such a great feeling to win here. This is one of the best rodeos in the world and it’s underestimated for sure. The committee here is phenomenal and the stock contractors are phenomenal. When you can win a rodeo like this, it’s a cool feeling.”
After winning the Ponoka rodeo, Vold was ranked 17th in last week’s bareback riding world standings with $44,111.
At the Greeley rodeo, saddle bronc rider Rusty Wright clinched his second consecutive title after turning in a two-ride score of 168.5 and earned $5,264.
“It’s awesome,” Wright told the PRCA. “I’ve had kind of a slow year, and was excited to come here because I won it last year. I like the atmosphere here – it makes me aggressive and the crowd is fun. You can hear them scream when you ride and it makes you want to try harder.”
Wright has qualified for the National Finals the past two years. After winning in Greeley, he was ranked 16th in last week’s PRCA saddle bronc riding world standings with $34,915 and could be well on his way to earning a third consecutive NFR back number.
Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos for more than three decades. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.