LAS VEGAS – Tyler Pearson’s good week got better in a hurry Saturday night.
Pearson closed out his second appearance at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with the most cherished prize in the game, the Montana Silversmiths gold buckle. He placed five times in 10 nights, wrestling 10 steers to the ground in 45.9 seconds to finish second in the average.
In all, he pocketed $155,538 in Sin City, increasing his 2017 season earnings to $265,457. He beat his good friend, Montanan Ty Erickson, by just $2,200 to claim the gold.
“I had no idea what was going to go on today,” said Pearson, a Louisville, Miss., cowboy now living in Atoka, Okla. “I knew I just needed to throw a steer down.”
It came down to the final night of the rodeo season after Erickson was saddled with a 26.8-second run during Friday’s ninth round, when the steer nearly slipped through his grasp – he held on and trailed the steer as he finally settled on the long time. But it pushed him down the average race. He went from first to sixth, and Pearson remained No. 2.
The $54,577 Pearson earned by having the second best cumulative time pushed the Mississippi bulldogger to the top.
“I hated it so bad for Ty last night,” Pearson said. “I knew I had a chance. I did not know what I needed to do coming in to today. I just wanted to get a good start and throw my steer down. I had no idea I won until just a little bit ago.
“It is unbelievable. This is a dream come true.”
Every cowboy and cowgirl that has come up in the sport has dreamed of that gold buckle. It’s a lifetime love affair, and it’s special. But it’s one he’s worked hard for. Bulldogging didn’t come easy, but his work ethic and focus have guided him to the top of the mountain.
“Sure, every guy wants to win the world title, but if I could pick the person who deserved it most, it would be Tyler,” said Kyle Irwin, Pearson’s traveling partner and the other half of the co-ownership of their mount, Scooter, the 2017 Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year. “I made the finals in ’14 and ’15, and he came up short, but he never stopped. He always believed in me. He helps other people.
“He went through a lot last year with a flood in Louisiana, made it through that and moved to Oklahoma. He never gave up, he never quit. He believed in our horses, himself, our team, then he trusted me to come here and haze for him. For him to win the world title means everything to me.”
It helps to have such great horsepower. In addition to Irwin and Pearson, Scooter carried Erickson and reigning champ Tyler Waguespack through 10 rounds. Combined, they earned nearly $230,000. Pearson added another $40,772 in mount money, a percentage of earnings by the other two bulldoggers.
“Horsepower is everything here,” Pearson said. “Scooter is absolutely amazing. I’m glad this thing is over so he can rest. The four of us profited a good amount.
“I came into this year’s NFR prepared. The last time I came, I was crippled, and I had been bulldogging good. To come in healthy one time and get some practice hours meant a lot. I practiced every day for about two months, and I’m sure glad it paid off.”