LAS VEGAS – Once good things begin in Sin City, the ball can get rolling rather quickly.
Kyle Irwin knocked his steer down in 4.1 seconds Friday night to finish in a tie for third place in the second round of the National Finals Rodeo, collecting his first paycheck of this year’s championship.
On Saturday morning, his 10-month-old son, Tripp, took his first three steps in the hotel room that Irwin shares with the baby boy and wife, Randa. That kind of movement only gets faster from here, but the Irwins are ready for it. That’s what they want to see out of every run at the NFR, too.
“He’s having a blast,” said Irwin, who added $13,327 to his season earnings. “I know my wife is ready for my mother and my mother-in-law to get here so she can let her hair down and relax a little bit, but we’re excited that we were able to bring him.”
They’re also excited about the opportunities the lie before Irwin over the next eight rounds, but it was good to find his way to the pay window early in this year’s finale.
“That steer was a good chance,” he said. “He stepped at me, then stepped away from me and was pretty tricky to catch. I think that’s what kept me from placing a little bit better, but he made me hustle. I was able to get some good money.”
He did. In fact, he pushed his season earnings to more than $103,000 and has moved up one spot to 10th in the world standings.
“This lights the fire in me,” said Irwin, a three-time NFR qualifier from Robertsdale, Ala., now living in Westville, Fla. “Now we can do what we came here to do, and that’s make some good money.”
He has some pretty good help in the form of his hazer, traveling partner Tyler Pearson, and Scooter, a 12-year-old sorrel gelding that he and Pearson own; Scooter was the 2017 Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year.
“Scooter was amazing,” said Irwin, who pointed out that he is one of four cowboys riding the talented horse at this year’s NFR. “I was the first one out on him, and Tyler was third out on him; Tyler placed second, and I finished third.
“I know my horse is going to do what he’s supposed to do. He is a difference-maker, and I’m very pleased to have him on my side.”
It may have shown in the opening round, even though Irwin failed to finish among the top six. The Alabama cowboy was a bit late, but Scooter tracked the steer down in a hurry, and Irwin finished just out of the money. He made the necessary adjustments on Friday night.
“I got a good start and was closer to the barrier,” he said. “With this pen of steers and the guys you are competing against, you have to take advantage of every start and every steer. Scooter got me in position, and I was able to get my feet on the ground fast.
“After placing, now I feel like I’m settled in. Now it’s time to take advantage of all these opportunities.”
After all, Tripp Irwin needs some new shoes.