For years, the tie-down roping has arguably been the most exciting event in ProRodeo. For the last decade, with Monty Lewis as the exception, the calf roping world championship race has always been between Cody Ohl and Fred Whitfield. In a run-by-run situation, year-in and year-out throughout each season and over the course of their careers, these two rodeo friends have been playing a game of one-upmanship. That trend continued at the 2006 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo where Ohl roped his way to another world title riding his super horse Luke.
For 2006, Cody Ohl once again raised the bar, winning his sixth world title (one of which was an all-around title). He, like Will Lowe in the bareback riding, broke all the earnings records and came .5 seconds from setting a new Wrangler NFR average mark.
"I lost two (world titles) in a row and so I really had the itch so I toughed it out, stayed out and rodeoed and just got it done," he said.
Just getting it done doesn't accurately describe the last half of the season Ohl enjoyed in 2006. After watching Trevor Brazile storm to a $30,000 lead in the calf roping over the winter and spring months, Ohl responded, using the two-year world title drought as motivation.
"I had all the family with me in Cheyenne, Wyo., and when that week started I was $30,000 behind Trevor Brazile. When that week was over I was $6,000 behind. Ogden, Utah, started the whole deal off and from then on I placed at 22 rodeos in a row and 24 out of 25 coming into the National Finals. It was a great deal. Anytime I wouldn't place in the first round at a rodeo, I'd come back and dominate the second round or vice-versa. It was just a great, great year.
"To place at 22 rodeos in a row, win $10 grand in Omaha and $10 grand in Dallas and coming in here with a good lead every day I couldn't see how it could get any better,"
However, upon arrival at the Thomas and Mack, it did get better. Ohl placed in nine of 10 rounds and won four of them, clinching his world title after the eighth round.
"You don't get to run at $16,000 on one calf all year," Ohl said. "So it's hard for me to hold back-especially when the round is a little bit soft, you know. I come in here tonight with a 15 second lead (in the average). It was just laying on the table and so I run at it. The worst thing you can do get out late thinking about it."
Run at it he did, winning the round, average (84.3 on ten) and world in style. Then, in a Terrell Owens moment, pulled a Sharpie from his pocket, signed the hat he was wearing and threw it into the crowd.
"I thought about if I won the average that was what I wanted to do," he said. "You can't say it doesn't mean anything, the guy about broke his neck trying to catch it. I like to give back to the fans. Without them rodeo means nothing and without them my motor doesn't get running. A calf I tie in 7.5 I'm 8 flat without them."
When the hooplah from the 18,000 fans settled, Ohl wound up with $298,112 in season earnings, $132,652 in Wrangler NFR earnings, and the upper hand in the calf roping. It's hard to imagine a more exciting and dominating scenario, but with the cast of characters in that event, the 2007 season to bring bigger and better things in the tie-down roping.