Tim O’Connell of Zwingle, Iowa, who won the bareback bronco event at the Gerry Rodeo in August, and who then went on to win a World Championship in Las Vegas, has recently received a special honor from his home state with a day named in his honor by the Iowa State Senate.
The 25-year-old O’Connell, despite his small size (5’7” and 145 pounds) has had a very fast rise to the top of the rodeo world in his event, which is rated by most rodeo competitors as the toughest event in the sport as the cowboy has only a strap with a handle attached to stay aboard a bronc for the required eight seconds.
He joined the professional rodeo ranks in 2013 and was named Rookie of the Year. In each of the three years since, he has qualified for the National Finals Rodeo by placing in the top 15 in his event despite missing six months with an injury. 2016 saw him rise to the top as he rode all ten of his broncs in Las Vegas, winning $195,308 there, bringing his total earnings for the season to more than $374,000.
His success is continuing into the 2017 season as he is presently third in the World rankings with over $88,000 in the first two months.
O’Connell grew up in a rodeo family with both his mother and father competing. He was a natural athlete as he qualified three times in wrestling for the Iowa State Championships and made it to the National High School Rodeo Finals all four of his high school years. He went on to compete in rodeo at Iowa Central Community College and Missouri Valley College before joining the professional ranks.
He credits his family support, his faith in God, and his “never give up” attitude for his success. He got additional support just prior to the 2016 season as he married fellow rodeo competitor, barrel racer Sami Ross, whom he has known since their high school days.
Gerry Rodeo chairman Tom Atwell says we are grateful to rodeo competitors like O’Connell who take time in their hectic schedule to visit a small-town rodeo like Gerry to give the area fans a chance to see world-class competitors in person. He added, “This proves the kind of individuals who are a part of the sport of rodeo”.
The 73rd consecutive annual Gerry Rodeo is scheduled for four nightly performances this summer, August 2-5, with approximately 200 professional cowboys and cowgirls competing for $45,000 in prize money. All profits benefit the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. Additional information is available at the rodeo website www.gerryrodeo.org.