Transplanted Aussies among the champs at 28th annual Oregon Trail Rodeo |

Transplanted Aussies among the champs at 28th annual Oregon Trail Rodeo

Ruth Nicolaus
For the Oregon Trail Rodeo
Jacob O’Mara, Baton Rouge, La., won the bull riding at the Oregon Trail Rodeo in Hastings with a score of 82 points.
Photo by Ruth Nicolaus

HASTINGS, Neb. – The rain didn’t cancel the Oregon Trail Rodeo in Hastings, and it didn’t deter the cowboys and cowgirls, either.

Champions were determined on Sunday, Aug. 25, in each of seven rodeo events.

In the bareback riding, an Australian took home first place.

Anthony Thomas, who now lives in Humble, Texas, scored 82 points on the Korkow Rodeos horse Matrix to beat out the field of 12 other riders.

The horse “has been a great horse for a long time,” Thomas said. “He’s pretty rider-friendly, a good, honest bucking horse.”

The 31-year-old cowboy came to the U.S. six years ago with the goal of rodeoing professionally.

In April of last year, he had major reconstructive surgery on the elbow on his riding arm, causing him to sit out of rodeo for 18 months while it healed.

It’s also caused him to adjust his riding style. While most bareback riders ride with their arm straight, Thomas has to tape his so it is bent, which makes his shoulder and neck take more of the beating a bareback horse gives the arm. “My elbow is great,” he said. “It’s healed up. It’s just everything else that compensates for it. My neck and my trap (trapezius muscle) act as a shock absorber now instead of my arm,” he said.

Anthony is currently ranked 47th in the world standings. His goal is to remain in the top 50 in the standings, which will allow him to compete at the big winter rodeos like San Antonio and Houston, Texas, where more money is up for grabs.

Another Australian did well in Hastings.

Cooper Thatcher, Darbalara, New South Wales, scored 80 points on the Korkow Rodeos horse Vanilla Twist to tie for the saddle bronc riding win, with Wyatt Hageman.

Thatcher is a student at Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Okla. He came to the states two years ago, following in his dad’s footsteps. Mark Thatcher, his father, was also a saddle bronc rider who spent a few years competing in the U.S. in the late 1980s.

Thatcher also rodeos collegiately for Panhandle State and finished the 2018-2019 school year fourth in the nation at the collegiate level.

He’s sitting third in the Prairie Circuit standings, pro rodeo’s designation for rodeos in Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, and will juggle pro rodeo competition alongside college rodeo and 18 credit hours this semester.

His toughest class this year, he figures, will be his plant science class, as he works towards an ag-business degree. “I’ll have to knuckle down and get that one done,” he said.

Wyatt Hageman tied with Thatcher for the saddle bronc riding win.

Hageman, of Jay Em, Wyo., rode the same horse as Thatcher won on, Vanilla Twist, but he rode the bronc on Sunday while Thatcher rode on Friday night.

He was excited to see he had drawn the horse. “I came here knowing I had a really nice horse,” he said. “I knew if she did what she needed to do, and I did what I needed to do, it would work out good.”

The bull riding title went to another cowboy from the south, but not as far south as Down Under.

Jacob O’Mara, Baton Rouge, La., topped the bull riding charts with a score of 82 points on the Korkow Rodeos’ bull Slipknot.

The 27-year-old cowboy qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo eight years ago, but hasn’t since.

He sat out all of last year with shoulder surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff, labrum, and bicep.

And this year, the birth of his and his wife Kortlin’s second child, a boy, has kept him close to home. “It’s been more of a dad year for me, than a rodeo year,” he said. The couple has an older child, a daughter who is 18 months old.

He’s rodeoing close to home this year, but will hit the trail hard next year. “I hope to get in the top 50 next year, to qualify for the big winter rodeos and get a good start,” he said.

After competing in Hastings on Saturday night, O’Mara was on to a rodeo in Pueblo, Colo., on Sunday, home for a few days, then to rodeos in Palestine, Ill., and Dayton and Madison, Iowa.

Other champions at the 28th annual rodeo include tie-down roper Ryan Thibodeaux, Stephenville, Texas, (8.3 seconds); steer wrestler Hunter Crawford, Mount Hope, Kan., (4.2 seconds); team ropers Cale Markham, Vinita, Okla., and Brye Crites, Afton, Okla., (5.3 seconds); and barrel racer Kricket Gintner, Eau Claire, Wis. (15.77 seconds).

The 2019 Miss Oregon Trail Rodeo queen was crowned during the Sunday performance.

Maceyn Howard, North Platte, Neb., won the crown. The daughter of David and Jodi Howard, she is a graduate of North Platte High School ad is now a student at Colby (Kansas) Community College. She has participated in 4-H for 11 years, and in college, is working towards a veterinary technology degree. She is 18 years old.

Next year’s Oregon Trail Rodeo is tentatively set for Aug. 21-23, 2020. For more information, visit the fairgrounds website at For complete results, visit

Bareback rider Anthony Thomas poses on the bucking chutes after his 82 point ride at the Oregon Trail Rodeo. The Australia-turned-Texas cowboy won the bareback riding at the Hastings rodeo. Photo by Ruth Nicolaus.

Jacob O’Mara, Baton Rouge, La., won the bull riding at the Oregon Trail Rodeo in Hastings with a score of 82 points. Photo by Ruth Nicolaus.

Results, 2019 Oregon Trail Rodeo, Hastings, Nebraska

Bareback riding champion: Anthony Thomas, Humble, Texas

1. Anthony Thomas, Humble, Texas 82 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Matrix; 2. Tyler Johnson, Holder, La. 79.5; 3. T. Fine, Pomona, Kan. 78.5; 4. J.C. Hester, Jr, Appleton, Minn. 77.5; 5. Jade Taton, Rapid City, S.D. 75.5; 6. Garrett Shadbolt, Merriman, Neb. 75.

Tie-down roping champion: Ryan Thibodeaux, Stephenville, La.

1. Ryan Thibodeaux, Stephenville, Texas 8.3 seconds; 2. Dalton Dunham, Clarksville, Texas 9.4; 3. Luke Potter, Maple City, Kan. 9.6; 4. Cole Bailey, Okmulgee, Okla. 9.8; 5. Austin Hurlburt, Norfolk, Neb. 9.9; 6. Wyatt Cole Muggli, Lane, Okla. 10.0.

Saddle bronc riding co-champions: Wyatt Hageman, Jay Em, Wyo., and Cooper Thatcher, New South Wales, Australia

1. (tie) Wyatt Hageman, Jay Em, Wyo. 80 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Vanilla Twist, and Cooper Thatcher, Darbala, New South Wales, Australia 80 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Vanilla Twist; 3. Trent Burd, Ft. Scott, Kan. 79.5; 4. Brady Hill, Onida, S.D. 79; 5. Cody DeMoss, Heflin, La. 78; 6. Lane Schuelke, Newell, S.D. 77.5.

Steer wrestling champion: Hunter Crawford, Mount Hope, Kan.

1. Hunter Crawford, Mount Hope, Kan. 4.2 seconds; 2. Chad Van Campen, McCook, Neb. 4.3; 3. Stockton Graves, Alva, Okla. 4.5; 4. Weston Taylor, Perryton, Texas 4.6; 5. Jeff Richardson, Kearney, Neb. 5.0; 6. Trevor Haake, Grand Island, Neb. 5.3.

Team roping champions: Cale Markham, Vinita, Okla./Brye Crites, Afton, Okla.

1. Cale Markham, Vinita, Okla./Brye Crites, Afton, Okla. 5.3 seconds; 2. Nick Becker, Garden City, Kan./Dawson McMaster, Madison, Kan. 5.4; 3. Gavin Foster, Elmore City, Okla./Daniel Reed, Ada, Okla. 6.0; 4. Marshal Peterson, Ashland, Neb./Tucker White, Hershey, Neb. 6.8; 5. Cooper White, Hershey, Neb./Jerren Johnson, Casper, Wyo. 6.9; 6. Jared Gonzales, San Tan Valley, Ariz./J.C. Flake, Laramie, Wyo. 8.0.

Barrel racing champion: Kricket Gintner, Eau Claire, Wisc.

1. Kricket Gintner, Eau Claire, Wisc. 15.77; 2. Jessica Routier, Buffalo, S.D. 15.83; 3. Leslie Smalygo, Collinsville, Okla. 15.93; 4. Chelsea Moore, Wichita, Kan. 16.01; 5. Jeanne Anderson, White City, Kan. 16.04; 6. Jamie Chaffin, Burwell, Neb. 16.25; 7. (tie) Julie Erkamaa, East Troy, Wisc. and Fonda Melby, Backus, Minn. 16.26 each; 9. (tie) Danyelle Hovland, Maiden Rock, Wisc. and Sondra Conklin, Fayette, Mo. 16.38 each.

Bull riding champion: Jacob O’Mara, Baton Rouge, La.

1. Jacob O’Mara, Baton Rouge, La. 82 points on Korkow Rodeo’s Slipknot; 2. Ethan Lesiak, Clarks, Neb. 78.5; 3. Coy Pollmeier, Ft Scott, Kan., 77; 4. Jeff Bertus, Avon, S.D. 75.5; 5. Dakota Nye, Keosauqua, Iowa 73.

All-around champion: Marshal Peterson, tie-down roping and team roping

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