It was a year of repeat champions and arena records at the St. Paul Rodeo June 30-July 4, and also a bit of a homecoming for Canby's Charly Crawford.
The now Prineville resident teamed up with Joseph Harrison of Overbrook, Okla., to take home the title in the team roping competition with a time of 9.8 seconds on two head.
"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."
It was Crawford's second career win in St. Paul after breaking through in 2006, but the buckle that year went to his good friend Stub Johnson, who had cancer. A resident of St. Helens, Johnson helped with the team roping, running the barrier rope for years. When Johnson died, he was buried with the buckle. Now Crawford has one for himself.
"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 rodeod and peewee rodeoed right here."
Crawford and Harrison also set a new arena record with their open round time of 4.1 seconds, besting the old mark of 4.2, achieved by Joe Beaver and Tom Bourne in 2001 and Ty Blasingame and Cody Hintz in 2010.
Another arena record was set at this year's St. Paul Rodeo and led to another repeat champion as Tim O'Connell scored 89.5 points to win the bareback riding competition, the gold buckle and a check for $10,892.
The reigning PRCA world champion and 2016 St. Paul event winner beat the old record of 88 points, set by three different cowboys: Bruce Ford in 1989, Wes Stevenson in 2002 and Steven Dent in 2012.
O'Connell is also the No. 1 man in this year's standings, a little more than $15,000 ahead of bareback rider R.C. Landingham.
St. Paul marked the third time that O'Connell has been pitted against the Bridwell Pro Rodeohorse Sacred Nation, and he's done well on her each time, winning Puyallup last year and placing third in the first round at last year's Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
"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."
This year's overall champion was Rhen Richard of Roosevelt, Utah, who took home $3,480 for a tie for eighth place in tie-down roping and won the second round of team roping (4.2 seconds) with partner Rich Skelton of Llano, Texas.
Winning the tie-down roping competition was Clint Nyegaard of Cuero, Texas, who finished with a time of 19.7 seconds on two head, which was 0.4 seconds faster than runner-up Tyson Durfey. Nyegaard's total included a time of 8.7 seconds.
Kyle Irwin of Robertsdale, Ala., won a tight competition in steer wrestling, finishing at 8.6 seconds on two head to beat out Marty Yates of Stephenville, Texas, who clocked in at 9.0 seconds. Irwin tied for fifth in the first go round at 4.4 seconds, then tied for fourth in the second go round at 4.2 seconds to take home the St. Paul buckle.
Bull rider Brady Portenier of Caldwell, Idaho, scored 90 points on Corey and Lange Rodeo's Moe Betta to edge out Sage Kimsey (88 points) and Adam Lucero (87.5) to claim his first St. Paul event title.
Shade Ebauer was also a first-time winner in saddle bronc riding. The Goodwell, Okla., rider scored 83 points on Bridwell Pro Rodeo's Goliath to best Joe Harper and Ryder Wright, who tied for second at 82.5.
Rounding out the field of winners was Nellie Miller of Cottonwood, Calif., who posted a time of 17.43 seconds to take home the barrel riding title by 0.16 seconds over Morgan Breaux.