Cody Ohl rebounded from an aggressive mistake with a record-setting run in the third round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and hopes that momentum carries through his final seven days of the sport’s Super Bowl.
Ohl broke the barrier in round two – incurring a 10-second penalty that kept him from placing third – but responded with a 6.7-second run Saturday before 17,694 fans at the Thomas & Mack Center. That gave him a huge shot of confidence.
“It really gives me a lot,” Ohl said. “Today, I was kind of down on myself and kicked myself a little bit, and this is exactly what I need for the last seven rounds. I need to feed off of this and get everything back rolling. I spotted them a little bit breaking that barrier last night, so now I have to start getting some of that back.”
The win didn’t come easily for Ohl, as red-hot Shane Hanchey tied his Round 3 record of 6.9 seconds – which Ohl previously shared with Tuf Cooper – to take the early lead. Ohl trumped it a short time later, as has been his habit on the third night of the Finals.
“It’s awesome,” said Ohl, a six-time world champion who is seeking his first title in seven years. “I have the arena (Thomas & Mack) record at 6.5, and I was pretty confident that I could’ve gotten that (Friday night), but I just unfortunately got that barrier by about an inch or two. I wasn’t going to change anything because I know it was just a little bad luck. I just ran at the barrier the same tonight and I blew it out of there and everything worked perfectly.”
The 40-year-old Ohl won tie-down roping world titles in 1997-98, 2001, 2003 and 2006 and also claimed the world all-around championship in 2001. He earned $18,630 with the round win and is third in the world standings with $113,573. He trails tie-down roping leader Tuf Cooper by $28,502. Hanchey, who won Round 1, moved into second in the world standings with a second-place check worth $14,724.
Until Ohl’s lightning-quick run, it looked like Hanchey would score his second win of the Finals. Ohl now owns five of the 10 fastest times ever in Round 3, ranging from 6.7 to 7.1 seconds. He said winning a round never gets old.
“This is what brings me back,” he said. “This is what makes you feel good. All your hard work growing up, this is where it all pays off, right here.”
A sixth tie-down roping championship would tie Ohl with Roy Cooper for fourth place on the all-time list. Dean Oliver owns the tie-down roping record with eight titles, one ahead of Fred Whitfield and Toots Manfield.
Ohl owns the WNFR record for tie-down roping round wins with 45, which is 22 more than runner-up Whitfield. Trevor Brazile holds the record for round wins with 54 and is close to clinching his eighth straight world all-around championship, 11th overall and record-breaking 19th gold buckle.
Another old pro came through in a big way in the steer wrestling as four-time World Champion Luke Branquinho topped the field with a 3.6-second run. There was a four-way tie for second at 3.8 seconds; one of those was Casey Martin, who regained the world standings lead, moving $6,208 ahead of Trevor Knowles.
“I knew it was a mid-3-second run,” Branquinho said. “I knew with the start I got and the run I made that I was going to have a chance to win the go-round.”
Branquinho has won $33,353 this week to jump from 13th in the standings to fourth – and he’s feeling the excitement of that momentum.
“I was second (Friday night) and I won first tonight, and if you can keep doing that during the week and get some of that average money, maybe at the end of the week I will have my fifth gold buckle,” Branquinho said. “But right now we are just going to run them one at a time.”
The veteran cowboy from Los Alamos, Calif. – who won world titles in 2004, 2008 and 2011-12 – figured it would be a fast night.
“You could see that this pen of steers was probably going to be the faster set of steers,” he said.
Steven Peebles continued to star in the bareback riding, as he won his second straight round – boosting his 2013 WNFR earnings to $37,260 – and climbed to fourth in the world standings with $119,060. He trails leader Kaycee Feild, the two-time defending champion, by $21,247. Four-time world champion Bobby Mote earned a third-place check Saturday and has $137,305 for the season, which is $3,002 behind Feild.
Peebles, the 24-year-old resident of Redmond, Ore., said he’s not paying attention to the numbers and is just enjoying the ride at his fifth WNFR.
“It feels awesome,” Peebles said. “I just want to keep rolling and not think about it too much. My new strategy this year is to not get too wound up. I try to stay calm, and treat every ride the same just like I do all year long. It was always too much on my mind in years past and I’d overthink it.”
Peebles said winning Friday night helped his attitude going into Round 3.
“Last night did help my confidence,” he said. “I hadn’t been on in two weeks, so I felt like I came in a little rusty. I feel great now. I just want them to keep bucking for me.”
He’d ridden Andrews Rodeo’s Cool Water once before, on another memorable night.
“My rookie year I got on her here at the NFR and had 82,” Peebles said. “I was plumb excited to get on her again. I remember more about the ride this time; I was real nervous back then.”
Saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell started slower than Peebles but was energized by his Round 3 victory. He rode for 86 points on Big Muddy from Big Stone, Moreno & Growney.
“I was pretty upset with myself after the first two nights, and there was no way I was going to let it happen again,” said the 28-year-old Sundell, who is competing in his fifth straight WNFR. “This was something I needed and I’m looking for nothing but big things from here on out. Tonight was big for me mentally and in the standings; when you can cut $18,000 off the lead of the guy in first, it’s always a big relief off your shoulders.”
The Coleman, Okla., resident said his previous experience on Big Muddy was helpful.
“I had ridden him twice before tonight and I had done pretty well on him, so I was excited to draw him again,” he said. “This was the best ride so far on him; he jumps in the air real high and hangs there and gives you a lot of timing and opportunities to show off. But still, you know if you stub your toe, he’s going to throw you right off.”
The exuberant and fun-loving Sundell gave notice to his fellow competitors that he could be a factor in the final seven days of the Finals.
“I think this could definitely be my year and I feel great,” he said. “I’m hoping for the rankest, best horse in the pen for the next seven nights, and if I do win the world, Vegas better hold on to its pants.”
WNFR rookie Cody Campbell captured the bull riding with 90 points on Wild Card Rodeo’s Magic. World standings leader J.W. Harris was second with 88.5 points. Rookie Cooper Davis was third with 86.5 on Kitty Shack, only the second time the bull had been ridden all year, the other by Cody Teel, who took fourth in the round. Only four bull riders reached the eight-second whistle, after three managed it the night before.
Shepherd Hills Tested bucked off Josh Koschel to improve his record to 22-0 for the season and prove again why he was named the Pendleton Whisky Let ‘er Buck Bucking Bull of the Year.
“This is very special, being my first NFR,” Campbell said, “so to be able to win a round means a lot. I’ll probably wear the buckle for a little while and then put it in a case somewhere in my house.”
Campbell was bucked off in the first two rounds, so was especially glad to post a big score.
“It feels awesome to get one down,” he said. “I had a mental error last night when I should’ve ridden one and the first two nights got away from me. Now that I got one, I hopefully can start a hot streak and come in with some confidence in the next few rounds and make something happen.
“This was huge because I needed to get something rolling to be able to stay in the world title race. The bull riding in Vegas is do-or-die and it all comes down to these 10 nights. If you are in the hunt and ride well enough you can win the world title, and I’m very happy to be back in it after tonight.”
Campbell is fifth in the world standings, a little more than $45,000 behind Harris, the three-time world champ.
Team roping produced a three-way tie for first between the partnerships of Riley Minor and Brady Minor, Drew Horner and Buddy Hawkins II, and Brandon Beers and Jim Ross Cooper. They were all clocked in 4.2 seconds.
“This is probably the best week of my life, so far,” said Riley Minor. “I won the first round, I got engaged (to Jordan Crossley), then I split this round three ways with my best buddy, Brandon Beers. That makes it really special. We traveled with Brandon and Jim Ross all summer, and we pull for them and they pull for us, so this is pretty cool.”
Beers was equally excited.
“This is awesome,” he said. “I’ve been here three times, so this is my 23rd round. And this is my first first. The victory lap was the coolest thing ever. It was awesome to split it with Riley and Brady. Brady and I have adjoining rooms here in Vegas. We’re close. This is great.”
For WNFR rookies Horner and Hawkins, the victory lap was something they’d hoped for since childhood.
“I’ve dreamed of that moment (the victory lap),” Horner said. “I’ve been wanting an NFR buckle forever. To get it done in the third round at my first Finals is exciting; a dream come true for me. Things came together for us tonight. To split it with some good friends of ours makes it even more fun.”
“I’m just grateful to be here,” Hawkins said. “It’s pretty awesome. I’ve worked six days a week the last 12 years to get to rope in this building. This is amazing.”
Cooper, in his fourth Finals, finally got his first round win.
“I heard last night that Charly (Crawford) had roped 62 times before winning one,” said Cooper, who triumphed on his 33rd try. “I did not want to be the guy who beat that, so I was really glad to get this win tonight. This is what you dream about. Besides the gold buckle or the average championship, it’s the third best thing that can happen here.”
Brady Minor gave much of the credit to his younger brother, Riley.
“Our steer was pretty slow, and Riley drilled the barrier,” he said. “I almost got too close to the steer. I just fired it in there and luckily I caught. My goal is still to catch all 10 steers. If it happens like tonight, that’s even better.”
Barrel racer Taylor Jacob, the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Rookie of the Year, equaled Sherry Cervi’s Round 3 record of 13.65 seconds. Cervi had won the first two rounds and tied for fourth Saturday; she holds a $39,749 lead in the world standings over defending champion Mary Walker.
Jacob, one of four ProRodeo rookies in the Finals, said, “I am ecstatic. This is almost overwhelming. I guess I didn’t expect to be so emotional about it. During the first two runs I was a little bit disappointed, because I wanted to win right away. When I didn’t, I was a bit emotional. Now, tonight, it just feels awesome. This is absolutely amazing.”
Cervi is leading the race for the Ram Truck Top Gun Award with $43,570, which goes to the contestant who wins the most money at the WNFR. Her closest pursuers are Hanchey ($41,166), Peebles ($37,260) and Proctor ($37,260).
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas – Round 3
Bareback riding: 1. Steven Peebles, Redmond, Ore., 85.5 points on Andrews Rodeo’s Cool Water, $18,630; 2. Austin Foss, Terrebonne, Ore., 84.5, $14,724; 3. Bobby Mote, Culver, Ore., 81.5, $11,118; 4. (tie) Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb., and Clint Cannon, Waller, Texas, 79.5, $6,310 each; 6. Jessy Davis, Power, Mont., 79, $3,005; 7. (tie) Kaycee Feild, Payson, Utah, and Caleb Bennett, Morgan, Utah, 78.5 each; 9. J.R. Vezain, Cowley, Wyo., 78; 10. Casey Colletti, Pueblo, Colo., 77.5; 11. (tie) Ryan Gray, Cheney, Wash., and Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas, 76.5 each; 13. Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, 69; 14. (tie) Ty Breuer, Mandan, N.D., and Jared Smith, Cross Plains, Texas, NS.
Steer wrestling: 1. Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, Calif., 3.6 seconds, $18,630; 2. (tie) Casey Martin, Sulphur, La.; Jule Hazen, Ashland, Kan.; Hunter Cure, Holliday, Texas; and Wade Sumpter, Fowler, Colo., 3.8, $9,615 each; 6. Matt Reeves, Cross Plains, Texas, 3.9, $3,005; 7. Bray Armes, Ponder, Texas, 4.0; 8. Jason Miller, Lance Creek, Wyo., 4.2; 9. Tyler Pearson, Louisville, Miss., 4.3; 10. (tie) Straws Milan, Cochrane, Alberta, and Dakota Eldridge, Elko, Nev., 4.7 each; 12. (tie) Stan Branco, Chowchilla, Calif., and Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., 4.8 each; 14. K.C. Jones, Decatur, Texas, 5.9; 15. Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore., 7.8.
Team roping: 1. (tie) Brandon Beers, Powell Butte, Ore./Jim Ross Cooper, Monument, N.M.; Riley Minor, Ellensburg, Wash./Brady Minor, Ellensburg, Wash., and Drew Horner, Plano, Texas/Buddy Hawkins II, Columbus, Kan., 4.2 seconds, $14,824 each; 4. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas/Patrick Smith, Lipan, Texas, 4.3, $7,813; 5. Turtle Powell, Stephenville, Texas/Dugan Kelly, Paso Robles, Calif., 4.4, $4,808; 6. Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas/Kollin VonAhn, Blanchard, Okla., 4.5, $3,005; 7. Nick Sartain, Dover, Okla./Rich Skelton, Llano, Texas, 4.8; 8. Kaleb Driggers, Albany, Ga./Travis Graves, Jay, Okla., 5.1; 9. Justin Van Davis, Madisonville, Texas/Clay O’Brien Cooper, Gardnerville, Nev., 9.4; 10. Charly Crawford, Prineville, Ore./Ryan Motes, Weatherford, Texas, 9.6; 11. Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas/Martin Lucero, Stephenville, Texas, 18.9; 12. Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz./Cory Petska, Marana, Ariz., 19.7; 13. (tie) Clay Tryan, Billings, Mont./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev.; Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz./Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., and Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont./Paul Eaves, Lonedell, Mo., NT.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Wade Sundell, Boxholm, Iowa, 86 points on Big Stone, Moreno & Growney’s Big Muddy, $18,630; 2. Tyler Corrington, Hastings, Minn., 85.5, $14,724; 3. Isaac Diaz, Desdemona, Texas, 84.0, $11,118; 4. Cole Elshere, Faith, S.D., 80.5, $7,813; 5. Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, 79, $4,808; 6. Chet Johnson, Sheridan, Wyo., 77.5, $3,005; 7. (tie) Jake Wright, Milford, Utah, and Heith DeMoss, Heflin, La., 77 each; 9. Chad Ferley, Oelrichs, S.D., 75.5; 10. Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., 75; 11. Jacobs Crawley, Stephenville, Texas, 74.5; 12. Bradley Harter, Weatherford, Texas, 74; 13. Cort Scheer, Elsmere, Neb., 73; 14. Sterling Crawley, Stephenville, Texas, 69.5; 15. Cody Wright, Milford, Utah, NS.
Tie-down roping: 1. Cody Ohl, Hico, Texas, 6.7 seconds, $18,630; 2. Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., 6.9, $14,724; 3. Clif Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 7.3, $11,118; 4. Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla., 7.5, $7,813; 5. Shane Slack, Idabel, Okla., 7.7, $4,808; 6. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 7.8, $3,005; 7. (tie) Scott Kormos, Teague, Texas, and Timber Moore, Aubrey, Texas, 8.1 each; 9. Randall Carlisle, Baton Rouge, La., 8.5; 10. Sterling Smith, Stephenville, Texas, 10.2; 11. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas, 10.8; 12. Stetson Vest, Childress, Texas, 11.0; 13. Caleb Smidt, Bellville, Texas, 15.9; 14. Justin Maass, Giddings, Texas, 17.6; 15. Tyson Durfey, Colbert, Wash., NT.
Barrel racing: 1. Taylor Jacob, Carmine, Texas, 13.65 seconds, $18,630; 2. (tie) Christy Loflin, Franktown, Colo., and Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla., 13.83, $12,921 each; 4. (tie) Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz., and Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., 13.87, $6,310 each; 6. Mary Walker, Ennis, Texas, 13.94, $3,005; 7. (tie) Michele McLeod, Whitesboro, Texas, and Jane Melby, Burneyville, Okla., 13.95 each; 9. Shada Brazile, Decatur, Texas, 14.00; 10. Trula Churchill, Valentine, Neb., 14.07; 11. Jean Winters, Texline, Texas, 14.21; 12. Sydni Blanchard, Albuquerque, N.M., 14.58; 13. Fallon Taylor, Whitesboro, Texas, 18.93; 14. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, 19.00; 15. Sabrina Ketcham, Yeso, N.M., 19.10.
Bull riding: 1. Cody Campbell, Summerville, Ore., 90 points on Wild Card Rodeo’s Magic, $18,630; 2. J.W. Harris, Mullin, Texas, 88.5, $14,724; 3. Cooper Davis, Jasper, Texas, 85.5, $11,118; 4. Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas, 82.5, $7,813; 5. (tie) Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, Wash.; Trevor Kastner, Ardmore, Okla.; Trey Benton III, Rock Island, Texas; Chandler Bownds, Lubbock, Texas; Cole Echols, Elm Grove, La.; Elliot Jacoby, Fredricksburg, Texas; Josh Koschel, Nunn, Colo.; Parker Breding, Edgar, Mont.; Tyler Smith, Fruita, Colo.; Steve Woolsey, Payson, Utah, and Tyler Willis, Wheatland, Wyo., NS.