Jerold Camarillo’s lasso is about as accurate as a sniper rifle.
With pinpoint precision, Camarillo can head or heel a steer in a matter of seconds, following a routine of consistent roping that has earned the longtime Oakdale rodeo expert a reputation over the years as one of the most successful tutors of Oakdale’s rodeo youth.
His accuracy and tutelage will be on display this week as he takes on some of the best ropers in the Western United States at the 59th Annual Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo.
Camarillo is one of several locals who will test their mettle in front of a huge home crowd at Oakdale’s Rodeo Grounds. He will join his brother Leo for the highly anticipated team roping on Friday, with a quest to snare top honors in the event.
Camarillo was all-around rodeo champion in 1992 and 1994.
“When I have a bad day I take second,” Camarillo joked on Monday, outside his Oakdale training grounds. “I’m really excited, and I’m in it to win it.”
The Camarillo brothers won’t be the only locals competing. Eight other Oakdale residents will join the fray of action, including bull riders Professional Bull Riding Association competitors Bo Bacigalupi and Cody Ibrahimi.
Camarillo mentors some of Oakdale’s brightest young rodeo stars, including 15-year-old Oakdale High student Colton Farquer, who transitions a successful high school rodeo career into high-stakes roping in his own community.
Farquer displayed some exceptional rodeo skills on Monday with expert lasso tosses onto both a mechanical steer and a steer sled. Rain kept Camarillo and Farquer from some serious roping inside a makeshift dirt arena, but the missed practice was a rare occasion.
“I’m out here every day working and training on roping,” Camarillo said. “We do a lot to prepare ourselves, and I always say that you are not ready to work on a real steer until you can rope a mechanical one ten times in a row with no trouble.”
Bacigalupi and Ibrahimi will take on the rodeo’s main event — the bull riding — with hopes to earn bragging rights and some serious prize money in front of their family and friends.
Bacigalupi is in his rookie season and preparing for a run of rodeo events each weekend into July. The 20-year-old cowboy was a high school rodeo standout and gained more knowledge of the bull riding trade from Modesto riders Thomas and Ted Bert.
“There are so many bulls out there that you hardly see the same once twice,” Bacigalupi said. “I am just going to show up and do my job.”
Bacigalupi joins his friend and recent Oakdale transplant, Ibrahami (formerly of Le Grand) in a shot at some of the toughest bulls the two will see each year.
“Oakdale is very rich in former world champion cowboys and there is no reason that should ever stop,” Oakdale Saddle Club President Ed Viohl said. “Bo is an up-and-comer and has not really hit his peak yet, he’s just getting started.
“He is very savvy, and I think he will do fine.”
Tuesday kicked off team roping action at the rodeo grounds, but Friday will mark the start to intense roping while bull riding begins on Saturday.
Daniel Green, Troy Murray (calf roping) and Joseph Shawnego will compete in team roping to represent Oakdale. Dani Leslie will tackle steer wrestling while Jessica Little tries her hand at girls barrel racing.
The locals will be joined by over 400 competitors from across the United States in a variety of events that include roping, racing, wrestling and riding.
Former world champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur, TX, is a favorite to take honors in both calf roping and team roping during the rodeo action.
Viohl said he expects another huge turnout during Oakdale’s biggest week of rodeo each year.
“You will find that this is more than just a rodeo,” Viohl said. “It’s a spring gathering … those rodeo fans are going to see some of the world’s best in action.”