Meet the 2020 NFR Athletes - Tim O’Connell
BY BRETT NIERENGARTEN
Three-time World Champion Tim O’Connell had a terrific 2020 season as he heads into his seventh consecutive Wrangler NFR.
O’Connell finished the 2020 season No. 1 in the bareback riding world standings with $122,927, the next closest bareback rider is Kaycee Field, who has about $94,000.
O’Connell started his season off with a bang at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo. He placed in the Top 2 in all four rounds he competed and won two of them. He finished second in the rodeo and collected more than $11,000 for the week. All of his rides were marked 87.5 points or better.
He continued his success throughout all of the big early season rodeos. In Fort Worth, he won more than $5,000 and finished fourth. In San Angelo, he was sixth at the Stock Show and Rodeo but returned for the Cinch Chute Out, where he tied the world record with 94 points on the back of Stevie Nix. That ride won him $7,500.
“I don’t have words for it, truthfully,” O’Connell said after his ride in San Angelo. “You are just in awe. You just tied for the best bareback ride in the history of our sport. Who is going to have words for that? I’m very humbled to be in that group. I’ve dreamed about being 90 in my career, and to accomplish that and now to make a ride six points off perfect and be with those legends, I’m very humbled to have my name in the record book.”
A week later, in San Antonio, O’Connell collected a $7,800 check for winning the rodeo with an 89-point ride.
O’CONNELL RIDES STEVIE NIX FOR 94 POINTS
O’Connell cooled off slightly following his red-hot start, but found himself winning rodeos again in June.
He was 89 points to win the Woodward Elks Rodeo in the middle of the month. Then, over Cowboy Christmas, the Iowa cowboy finished second in Belle Fourche, Cody and Mandan. He also finished fourth in Kildeer to place in four rodeos in four days, winning more than $10,000 along the way.
O’CONNELL, 89 POINTS AT WOODWARD ELKS RODEO
Finally, the month of September was kind to O’Connell as well.
Over three consecutive weeks, he won the Elk City Rodeo Of Champions, The Utah State Fair Rodeo and Lion’s Dixie Roundup.
He provided an exclamation point to his season by splitting the win with Richmond Champion at the Gold Buckle Knockout at the Cervi Ranch on the last day of the season.
“This is the most hard-earned Top 15 that I can think back of,” he said. “You had to fight the same guys every weekend tooth and nail.....Every dollar this year was hard-earned. Going in No. 1 this year, with this group of guys.....to ride this momentum in....it’s everything.”
INTERVIEW WITH TIM O’CONNELL FOLLOWING GOLD BUCKLE KNOCKOUT
Meet the 2020 NFR Athletes - Tilden Hooper
Meet the 2020 NFR Athletes - Kaycee Feild