DODGE CITY, KS. – For the better part of the last three years, Jacob O’Mara has spent more time on the disabled list than any athlete would like.
It’s especially hard for rodeo cowboys, who have no guaranteed contracts. The only way they make money is to win it, and O’Mara has been at his Baton Rouge, La., home a lot more than he’s been on the rodeo trail.
“I’ve had a lot of down time and a lot of home time, but I wouldn’t take it back,” he said. “If God wouldn’t have put me through and allowed me to go through the things I did, I wouldn’t be where I am today spiritually and a lot of my personal live. I’m thankful for that.”
He has returned with a vengeance, winning Tuesday night’s Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls title. He rode 4L and Diamond S Rodeo’s Lil Warrior for 86 points to win the championship and collect $1,861.
O’Mara won Roundup’s bull riding title in 2011 and parlayed that into a qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He finished the year fifth in the world standings, but that was followed by a series of injuries that have left him away from the game he loves for months at a time.
– A torn wrist tendon that required two surgeries in 2012
– A broken leg early in the 2013 season
– A torn thumb ligament in August 2014.
“I feel good right now,” said O’Mara, who was ranked 33rd in the bull riding standings heading into this week. “I had to take a couple weeks off in June because I bruised my rotator cuff, but I came back strong. I had a decent Fourth (of July run); I placed in the middle of the pack but felt like I was riding good.”
As is the case with any sport, there are definite slumps that come along. He experienced a short one last week.
“It lit a fire in me to come back here,” he said. “Being familiar with this rodeo and having had success here, it’s a comfort zone. I’m glad to get that fire underneath me and want to let it roll from here.”
O’Mara was just a half point better than 2011 world champion Shane Proctor of Grand Coulee, Wash., who finished second. Dustin Bowen of Waller, Texas, placed third with an 83.5, while Dodge City-born bull rider Tyler Hessman of Beaver, Okla., finished in a three-way tie for fourth with Brett Stall of Detroit Lakes, Mich., and Caleb Sanderson of Hallettsville, Texas, with 83s
A little more than two months remain in the 2015 regular season, and cowboys must be in the top 15 in the world standings if they want to play for the biggest pay in the game at the NFR.
“We’ve got enough time left, but it’s crunch time,” O’Mara said. “If I’m going to make a shot for the NFR, I’ve got to keep the ball rolling.”