The Iowa cowboy claimed titles at two rodeos last week with electric rides.
O'Connell won the Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo in Garden City, KS, with a career-best 92-point ride on Korkow Rodeos' Onion Ring on May 25. The rodeo ended on May 27.
"It was pretty spectacular," said O'Connell about his ride, which also was a PRCA season-best bareback ride. "That's an amazing animal. I've been on that horse like three or four times and I won St. Paul (OR) on that horse last July (with an 87-point ride). That horse does some special things out in that arena and he bucks hard every time.
Both of us were in good timing with each other and I knew it was going to be a good ride and it was surreal to get a 92-point ride. I feel very blessed.Then, O'Connell followed that up with a 90-point trip on Pickett Rodeo's Shady Nights on May 27 to win the U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Ultimate Challenge in Rosenberg, Texas.
O'Connell earned $1,988 in Garden City and $3,779 for his performance in Rosenberg.
"I had never been on that horse (Shady Nights) and I've been wanting to get on it for a long time," O'Connell said. "That was a great horse. I had a great start and she bailed out of there and she kicked high and hard and got high in the air. That horse has a lot of timing and really kicks hard and gives a guy the opportunity to almost think a little bit while you're riding. She never quit until it was over, and it was a lot of fun to make that ride."
O'Connell acknowledged capturing the U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Ultimate Challenge crown did have special meaning to him.
"It's always great to win a rodeo, but it's even better to win it when it's in memory of our troops," O'Connell said. "I went there last year, and to come back this year and win it is a really big highlight in my career."
A year ago, O'Connell snared his first world championship, thanks to earning $374,272. Having a target on his back this season is something he welcomes. His two recent rodeo wins allowed him to retake the lead in the May 30 WEATHER GUARD PRCA World Standings with $78,044. R.C. Landingham dropped down to second with $76,110.
"I like feeling that pressure," O'Connell said. "I was always a chaser of the No. 1 guy for a long time, and I realized it's better just to be the guy getting chased."
Courtesy of PRCA