It was tie-down roping world title No. 5 for tie-down roper Cody Ohl, but he'll probably always remember it as the year he broke so many records.
En route to the world title, Ohl set a new record for the most money won prior to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He had pocketed $165,460, breaking his own record of $152,670 set in 2001. At the Wrangler NFR, Ohl earned $132,652, breaking Jerome Schneeberger's Finals earnings record of $104,556 set in 2005. Combined, Ohl raked in $298,112 for the year, besting another of his own records, this time the record for annual event earnings in tie-down roping. Ohl held the previous record of $222,794.
But Ohl wasn't done there. He finished just three-tenths of a second off of Fred Whitfield's Wrangler NFR record time of 84.0 seconds on 10 head. Ohl also came within $2,000 of breaking the $300,000 mark in season earnings.
"I've had all my family — my two sons, my daughter and my wife — out here, and without them, none of it is possible," Ohl said. "To have them here and win my sixth (overall) world championship and break the records doing it, it's just the greatest feeling in the world."
Ohl (Hico, Texas) entered the Wrangler NFR with a $40,000-plus lead in the world standings, and never looked back. He won, or shared the round victory, four times during the 10-day stretch, starting with a solo win in Round 2.
He picked up checks in all but one round, the first, keeping a firm hold on the world standings lead. In doing so, Ohl established a series of quick times that were tough to keep up with, and he eventually won the Wrangler NFR average title too. His total of 84.3 seconds on 10 head was more than 20 seconds quicker than Matt Shiozawa, who finished in 105.4 seconds to finish second in the average and runner-up in the final world standings.
His time was just three-tenths of a second off Fred Whitfield's average record of 84.0 seconds set in 1997. Ohl needed a run of 7.1 in the final round to establish a new record, but when the dust settled the clock read 7.5 seconds.
That mark was more than enough to give him the average title.
"To beat the elite field that we have to rope against, there is no event even close," Ohl said. "If you come here, you have to beat most of the guys for a world championship. And you have to beat 14 guys for a go-round title, I promise you that. It's awesome to win in the elite field that we have."
Ohl, who won an all-around world title in 2001, will add his fifth tie-down roping world championship to his ever-growing list of victories. Many of those victories came during the 2006 season, when Ohl crossed the $2 million mark for career earnings, becoming just the eighth cowboy in PRCA history to do so.
He won a variety of rodeos during the year, starting with the Tour Round and average titles at the San Angelo (Texas) Stock Show & Rodeo in February. Ohl won Tour Round titles at the California Rodeo Salinas and Cheyenne Frontier Days and picked up titles in places like Laughlin, Nev., Dodge City, Kan., and Waco, Texas, just to name a few.
Beginning with the Ogden (Utah) Pioneer Days, Ohl and his famed horse, Luke, put together an impressive string of accomplishments. Ohl placed in 24 of 25 rodeos, and the frequent checks helped his bank account grow.
"This year, I crossed that $2 million mark and from then on, it seemed like every record that was ahead of me I got. It's been a dream come true year. And my horse worked great all year.
"That was 90 percent of it, really," he said about Luke. "Anytime I asked him for a yard, he gave me two miles. It seemed like he gave that much more all the time. Anytime you place at 22 in a row, you know your horse is working."
Together, Ohl and Luke make a pair of champions, because Luke was named the 2006 Tie-Down Roping Horse of the Year by the PRCA and AQHA. Ohl said Luke, owned by Darren Blanton, was great all season.
"He works well anywhere," Ohl said. "Whatever the setup, he adjusts to it, and that's what makes him a world champion."
The same could also be said for Ohl.