Irwin claims third-round title

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Kyle Irwin wrestles his steer to the ground in 3.4 seconds to win Saturday's third round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)
Kyle Irwin wrestles his steer to the ground in 3.4 seconds to win Saturday’s third round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – Yes, Kyle Irwin was excited about his third-round victory Saturday at the National Finals Rodeo, but there was something bigger to him.

“That means more to me than the round win does,” Irwin said, referring to the fact that of the top five steer wrestlers in the round, four of them were riding Scooter, the horse Irwin owns with friend and traveling partner Tyler Pearson.

“That shows the heart that horse has and the try he has, run after run after run. Actually, he gets stronger with the runs.”

Irwin’s 3.4-second run – the fastest of the NFR so far this year – led the way. Ty Erickson, the No. 1 cowboy in the game, finished second; Pearson, the No. 2 bulldogger, placed third; and Tyler Waguespack, the reigning world champion, finished in a tie for fourth.

“I wasn’t trying to be 3.4,” Irwin said. “I was trying to make a good run, and (Scooter) gave me a chance. I got my feet on the ground so fast, and the rest of it kind of takes care of itself. He is special to have, and we are glad to have him.”

Saturday’s victory marked the first time since Dec. 11, 2014, that he has won an NFR go-round. That came in the eighth round of that championship, and he’s been eagerly awaiting his return to the top of the leaderboard. His earned at least a share of three go-round wins three seasons ago.

“It struck my memory that I won the third round in 2014,” said Irwin, who placed in three rounds in 2015, his last time to compete at the NFR. “It was good to come back and do that again. I placed in the third round in 2015, so maybe it’s something about the third round that’s good for me.

“We will get the ball rolling and hopefully stay aggressive, so this is some good momentum to build on.”

Yes, it is. Irwin has earned just shy of $50,000 in three nights’ work in Las Vegas and has pushed his season earnings to $129,242. He has moved from 11th to fourth in the world standings, and the three men above him are the ones that ride Scooter.

Now he will celebrate the rest of Saturday night with his wife, Randa, and their 10-month-old son, Tripp, who took his first steps Saturday morning. Their first stop will be at the South Point for the Montana Silversmiths Go-Round Buckle Presentation.

“My cousin, Quinn (Campbell) called me right before we went into the grand entry and said that he had a table right up front at the South Point,” Irwin said. “I’ll be danged if we didn’t make it.

“I hope Tripp’s not too sleepy when we get to the South Point; maybe he will strike out and try to cross the stage.”

Whether Tripp Irwin does that or not, his daddy will.


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