Cody Ohl is proving that age really is just a number.
The six-time world champion, who owns five tie-down roping gold buckles, won his third straight round on Monday night after taking a chance with a quick tie and stopping the clock in 7.3 seconds. It was his third consecutive round victory and moved the 40-year-old Texan past two-time and reigning World Champion Tuf Cooper to the No. 1 spot in the world standings.
The future Hall of Famer has now won 47 rounds in the tie-down roping at the Wrangler NFR, by far the record for his event. A broken barrier in the second round has Ohl relegated to seventh place in the average for the time being, but he’s red hot as the $6.25 million rodeo heads into its second half.
“I finished off strong in the year, and the last four times I’ve sat in the saddle, I’ve won first (at an event),” said Ohl, whose last world title came in 2006. “If my match roping and jackpot go well in November, it just seems like it carries over here to the NFR. It sure has this year.”
Ohl rolled the dice by taking an aggressive approach with the tie on his calf Monday night, and it paid off.
“I was telling Joe Beaver that was a gamble I had to take right then,” he said. “If I put two wraps and straighten the calf’s legs out, I don’t place. I knew I wasn’t going to place if I had to replace those legs and do all that, so I just took the gamble one more time and am glad it didn’t bite me.
“The calf relaxed after I got them up there and I was confident in (the tie), but anything could have happened right there. That might have been the last time I make that big gamble.”
Ohl said he didn’t even realize his time was the round’s best, mainly because he thought Trevor Brazile had made a 7.1-second run. In reality, Brazile finished in 7.4 seconds to split second place with Clif Cooper.
“It was a very funny deal tonight, because I thought Trevor was 7.1,” Ohl said. “I could have sworn that’s what I heard. I just tipped my hat, but my wife was going crazy up there (in the stands), and I was like, ‘I (only) won second.’ I looked up there, and it had me one-tenth ahead of him, and I’m like, ‘Oh, you’re kidding me!’
“I had no idea when I roped that I was winning the round. It was pretty amazing when I did turn around and see the scoreboard.”
I’m 37, and there are days I feel 57. Ohl is 40, but there are times, like Monday, when he probably feels 20.
“I’m probably in better shape than I’ve been in four years, and I can feel it,” said Ohl, who is riding 2009 AQHA/PRCA Tie-Down Roping Horse of the Year Pearl owned by Sid Miller. “I’m lighter on my feet, and everything doesn’t ache. I’m feeling good, and my knees are as strong as they’ve been in the last couple years, and that makes a big difference out here.”
Ohl loves riding the talented horse at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“She’s the best horse here,” he said. “She does her job every time, and she’s not going to over-drag and is not going to walk up. It’s all on me in the end to do what I have to do to win money or stay in the roping.”
Eating right and exercise has helped Ohl come to Las Vegas feeling good physically.
“It’s just been watching what I eat and working out a little bit,” he said. “I don’t do much running because of my knees, but I do a lot of walking and just moving. I’m just more active and am just out and about more.”
He’s dialed in mentally, confident and ready to implement a methodical plan of attack during the final five rounds. That could spell doom for the rest of the tie-down roping field.
“I’ve put myself back where I need to be after breaking that barrier in the second round,” Ohl said. “I’m not going to change anything, but there’s going to maybe be a little better ties on the calves. I can’t afford to not place in the average now, so everything’s going to have to be deliberate.
“Maybe I’ll take a little extra time and take two swings, and that’ll give me time to put two wraps on it from here on out.”
Most importantly, Ohl said he’s having a blast as he chases yet another gold buckle.
“I’m having the most fun of my life right now,” he said. “It’s not realistic to a lot of people because I’m 40 and they think I should be starting to taper off. I’m 40 years old, and this is the event that keeps me around. When you back in here and go for $18,000, it’s hard not to go for first.
“If six-flat is winning the round, I’m going to try and be 5.9. I’m healthy and feeling good, and any time I know I have a chance to win first at the National Finals, I’m going to be around.”