LAS VEGAS – At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Tyler Pearson is a hulk of a man who wrestles steers for a living.
But he’s not afraid to show his emotional side, especially when it concerns the sport he loves and the reasons behind it. Saturday night’s third go-round of the National Finals Rodeo was special to him. Not only did he place for the third straight night of ProRodeo’s grand finale, he watched his good friends and his prized horse perform well, too.
“I was blessed with that run, and I would love to do that seven more times and be done with it,” said Pearson, who is from Louisville, Miss., but lives in Atoka, Okla., with his wife, Carissa, and their two children.
But there is much more to his third performance in Las Vegas. Kyle Irwin – his friend, traveling partner and co-owner of their horse, Scooter – won the round. Two other good friends, Ty Erickson and Tyler Waguespack, also placed high on the Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year – Erickson was second, and Waguespack finished in a tie for fourth place.
That means four of the top five finishers in the third round all rode the talented 12-year-old sorrel gelding. What’s even better is that those four men are also the top four in the bulldogging world standings: Erickson leads the race, followed by Pearson, Waguespack and Irwin.
“It’s surreal to me,” Pearson said. “We knew we believed in the horse when we got here, but for him to perform like that, it brings a tear to my eye every time I think about it. I’ve always wanted to have a good horse like this. I hope he can stay sound for the next seven days.”
Through three nights of this year’s NFR, Scooter has earned his cowboys $156,750. As long as the horse can remain healthy for the final seven nights of the 2017 ProRodeo season, that total should grow. That’s because all four share a similar mentality when it comes to competing inside the Thomas & Mack Center, the NFR’s home since 1985.
“You just think fast,” Pearson said. “We’re just trying to get out of the box. If we can get off the corner (of the timed-event box) before the steer goes, that’s what we want.
“You’ve got to go for first. If you back off here, they will kill you.”
Pearson trails Erickson by less than $17,000, and Waguespack is less than $24,000 behind Pearson. Now all four men will race their way to the world championship.
“This is awesome,” said Pearson, whose 4.0-second run Saturday earned him $15,653, padding his NFR paycheck to $67,115. “Iron sharpens iron. We want Ty to do good, we want me to do good and we want Kyle and Wags to do good. The faster they are, the faster we want to be.
“It makes us hungry.”
The NFR is the perfect place for a feast.