LAS VEGAS – Kyle Irwin always tries for perfection even though it’s unattainable.
He was pretty close Friday night during the second go-round of the National Finals Rodeo. The steer wrestler downed his steer in in 3.6 seconds to share the round victory with four-time world champion Luke Branquinho. It was worth $17,010.
“I knew he was good,” Irwin said of his steer. “I knew he was a chance. I tried to get a good start and felt like I did with no mistakes – maybe one or two, because there is no perfect run, but I’m not complaining one bit. I was 3.6 to win the round, my second round at the NFR was great.”
The Robertsdale, Ala., cowboy has found early success in his first qualification to ProRodeo’s grand championship. He has earned almost $22,000 in just two nights in the Nevada desert.
“When I was out in the parking lot getting ready, it was what I envisioned in my head,” he said of his run. “That’s the run I needed to run; smooth is fast and slow is smooth. That’s what we tried to do tonight, and that’s the way it worked out.”
In the two weeks leading up to the NFR, numerous NFR qualifiers spent time at Branquinho’s California home working with some of the cattle featured in Las Vegas, so they have seen the steers that were in Friday’s pen. That paid off for the winners.
“From running at Luke’s, I knew that steer’s pattern,” Irwin said. “My cousin reminded me that we’re chasing animals and anything happen. I kind of knew his pattern and knew what would happen if I got my feet on the ground, and sure enough, it did.”
It helps that he has two perfect partners in his hazer, Tyler Pearson, and Pearson’s bulldogging horse, Sketch.
“It means everything to have that kind of consistency,” Irwin said. “The first rodeo I went to this year was Austin, Texas; I went with Tyler and rode his horse. I’m comfortable. I don’t have any doubts about his ability of the horse or Tyler.”
“I’m comfortable in this atmosphere because of that.”
It shows. That’s a good thing for Irwin.