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Gaylord’s Joseph O’Connell to compete in National High School Finals Rodeo

GAYLORD-- Gaylord St. Mary incoming senior, Joseph O’Connell has qualified for his second National High School Finals Rodeo.

This year, he’s qualified for saddle bronc.

“My main focus is saddle bronc and that’s kind of what I range my goals on,” O’Connell said. “Just getting on the spur board every night and working out and just trying to watch videos here and there, just a lot of little things to get your mind right.”


This year’s finals are in Gillette, Wyoming- and O’Connell is loading up a minivan full of friends to make the 1,200+ mile trek out west. His parents, Tracy and Kevin, will be there cheering him on too.

“They support me a lot through the high school rodeo and I know they’re the reason that I’m allowed to do it and they helped me a lot along the way,” O’Connell said of his parents.

This year’s 75th annual National High School Finals Rodeo has over $375,000 available in college scholarship money, over $150,000 in prizes, over $150,000 in additional money, and of course, the chance at being named a World Champion.

The NHSFR is the world’s biggest rodeo, with over 1,700 contestants from 44 states, 5 Canadian provinces, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.


“All that’s kind of in the back of my head, you know, but try not to think about it too much. Um, hopefully do good so I can kind of get going through this next year and once I graduate, make more of a career out of it and hopefully make some money,” he said.

O’Connell is guaranteed two rides. One on Tuesday night and one Thursday morning. And the goal of those rides is to be in the top 20 to qualify for the “short go” round on Saturday night. From there, World Champions will be determined based on their third-round combined times and scores.

There will be a handful of other local cowboys headed to Gillette as well.

During the week-long rodeo, will have daily complete results.

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