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Arena records broken at St. Paul


By Ruth Nicolaus

ST. PAUL, Ore. – An Oregon and Oklahoma cowboy teamed up to cement a new team roping record at the 82nd annual St. Paul Rodeo.

Charly Crawford of Prineville, Ore., and Joseph Harrison of Overbrook, Okla., turned in a time of 4.1 seconds to win the first round, eclipsing the St. Paul Rodeo Arena record. The old mark of 4.2 seconds was 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 to win the average crown, adding up to a two-head time of 9.8 seconds.

It’s the second time Crawford has won the St. Paul Rodeo, and it’s special to him.

“I grew up right down the road in Canby, and I’ve been coming to this rodeo as long as I can remember,” he said. “I’ve junior rodeoed and peewee rodeoed right here.”

He won the St. Paul Rodeo in 2006, and the buckle that year went to his good friend Stub Johnson, who had cancer. Johnson, a resident of St. Helens, Ore., helped with the team roping, running the barrier rope for years. When Johnson passed away, he was buried with the buckle. This one, Crawford gets to keep.

When Crawford and Harrison made their victory lap, it was slow and to a roaring crowd, as they soaked up the applause.

“I’ve been roping my cowboy toy since I was a little kid, trying to win this rodeo,” Crawford said, beaming. “I’ve been here, pushing steers, watching the big guys, idolizing every one of them. This is a meaningful win. I’ve been dreaming of winning this rodeo since I was in diapers.”

The team roping record wasn’t the lone benchmark to be set anew.

Tim O’Connell, the reigning world champion bareback rider, scored 89.5 points to win the rodeo, the buckle, 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 is O’Connell’s second-consecutive victory at St. Paul, following an 87-point ride a season ago.   

O’Connell has set the bareback riding world on fire in the last few years, with his champion mentality. He won the 2016 PRCA world championship last season and is the No. 1 cowboy in this year’s current standings, a little more than $15,000 ahead of fellow bareback rider R.C. Landingham.

It was the third time for O’Connell matched up against Bridwell Pro Rodeo’s Sacred Nation, with success becoming a trend. He won Puyallup, Wash., last year on the horse, and placed third in the first round at last year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER.

“That’s a phenomenal horse,” he said. “Wow. What a day she had today. She’s an amazing animal that lets you completely go at her with everything you’ve got, and she gives it right back. I’m so thankful and so blessed.”

O’Connell works hard at his trade to be excellent at it, both physically and mentally.

“In the last couple years, I’ve tried to take complete accountability for my actions on the back of a bucking horse,” he said. “You stop blaming others, you stop blaming horses, you stop blaming judges, and you only blame yourself. And you’re the only person who can fix it. It makes me try to be a champion, and the best version of myself every single day I nod my head.”

Other winners at the $352,273 rodeo were all-around cowboy Rhen Richard ($3,480 in tie-down roping and team roping), steer wrestler Kyle Irwin (8.6 seconds on two head), saddle bronc rider Shade Etbauer (83 points on Bridwell Pro Rodeos’ Goliath), tie-down roper Clint Nyegaard (19.7 seconds on two head), barrel racer Nellie Miller (17.43 seconds) and bull rider Brady Portenier (90 points Corey & Lange Rodeo’s Moe Betta).  

For more coverage of St. Paul, check out the July 21 issue of the ProRodeo Sports News. 

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