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Local competitors vying for top spots in SDRA standings

Some local cowboys and a cowgirl have ridden their way to several top places in South Dakota Rodeo Association competitions. Their names – Jeff Jones, Morris Jones, Jim O’Dea and Jody Marone – have steadily appeared in rodeo results and standings over the first weeks of the South Dakota Rodeo Association season.

As of June 29th, Jeff Jones of Midland was ranked number one in the Men’s All-Around, pulling together his earnings from team penning, calf roping and team roping. He has been participating in rodeo for over 20 years.

“I enjoy it. It is great to be around rodeo people. They are a fun crowd,” he said. “I give the glory to God, because he has given me the opportunity to compete in rodeo,” Jeff said.

Injuries the past two years had kept Jeff from competing in calf roping, his favorite event, but he is now ranked number two in the event. Boe Brown of Mission edged him out of the first place spot after the Irene rodeo. The July 4th weekend rodeo results are not yet in.

In the team roping competition, Jeff’s partner, Dave Marone of Philip, has helped him reach the number seven slot in the SDRA standings for heelers. Dave is in the number six spot for headers.

Rodeo is a family affair for Jeff; he competes in team penning with his father, Morris Jones. His son, Brody, has also taken an interest in the sport, and at the age of eight he competes in barrels and poles. Jones owes some of his success to his father, who helped coached him along the way.

“He has done all the teaching. He was my main influence in getting me started,” Jones said.

Morris Jones of Midland isn’t far behind his son in the Men’s All-Around. The June 24th standings have him at 3rd place with $1,498.76. Several top placings in the senior men’s breakaway have earned him the second place spot in the standings in that event.

After his calf roping and team roping days in high school and college, Morris stopped competing for about 20 years. He re-entered the sport – coaxed by Jeff and the rest of his family – when he was old enough to compete in senior men’s breakaway. He has been participating in the event for seven years now, and he enjoys rodeo because “you see the friends that you get to know over the years.”

Some highlights from Morris’s rodeo career include winning the breakaway two times at Winner and getting the fast time with his team penning partners in the 2002 SDRA finals.

“Really, it is fun when you win any of them,” he said. “I have a horse I like pretty well. Both Jeff and I won in Britton on him.”

The 16-year-old quarter horse, Poker, has helped Morris with his successes in team penning and breakaway. Jeff uses the horse for his calf roping competitions.

Jim O’Dea of Howes has been competing in senior men’s breakaway for 12 years now. The June 24th standings have him in 14th place. Add his team penning winnings and Jim is number 12 in the Men’s All-Around.

“You run into good people and make a lot of friends. It is fun to compete,” he said.

Rodeo is a family sport, Jim said, and he has enjoyed watching his daughters compete in 4-H rodeos. Now, his grandchildren are getting involved.

“I have had a fun time doing things with my family,” Jim said. “Rodeo is a good family/fun sport.”

Jim has also been a part of some very successful team penning teams, winning SDRA championships in 1994 and 1997. For the past three years, Jeff and Morris have joined him. The team of three is currently ranked number three in the SDRA standings.

Team penning is a timed event in which the participants must sort off three head of cattle and get them into a pen on the other side of the arena. Jim said team work is essential in this event.

“You must work together with your team to accomplish that,” he said. “Team members must have good communication, and they must understand working cattle.”

Jody Marone of Philip has been competing in barrels since she was eight years old, taking a brief break for about three years. After seven rodeos this season, she is ranked number two in the SDRA standings in her event with $2,090.94.

“It is a sport that is fun and rewarding,” Jody said.

Currently, Jody is racing on a 10-year-old quarter horse. This is her third season on the horse, which she has worked with since it was three.

“It is rewarding after you’ve worked with a horse for so long, being able to watch him progress and start seeing him win,” Jody said.

With the rest of the SDRA season before her and a pro-rodeo in Mitchell, Jody is planning to “keep going and keep my horse healthy.”

Jody, who is married to Dave Marone, enjoys traveling with her team-roping husband: ‘It is a sport that we can both enjoy together,” Jody said.

The couple also totes their two children with them to their rodeos. Their six-year-old, Rich, is developing an interest in rodeo also, and he rides around on his mother’s old barrel horse.

All of these rodeo participants agree that their traveling partners have enhanced their success in rodeo. Jeff, Morris, Jim, Jody and Dave all travel to rodeos together.

“They are all very positive and they all keep each other going,” Jody said.

Jeff said his son, Brody, and Jody and Dave’s son, Rich, often enjoy the rodeos together.

“They have fun cheering, playing and watching,” Jeff said and added, “The people we travel with make it a lot of fun. That’s why we are doing so well.”