LAS VEGAS – If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a talented team to create success in steer wrestling.
Kyle Irwin of Robertsdale, Ala., knows that as well as anyone. That’s why he leans heavily on Tyler, Barbara and Sketch, the keys to his success during the National Finals Rodeo. On Saturday night, all the pieces worked together well with a 4.1-second run during the third go-round.
“I knew he was good,” said Irwin, who placed in a three-way tie for third place, earning $11,141 in the process. “They were actually faster on him in Omaha (Neb., in September), but to split third, fourth and fifth … I’ll do that every round.”
So will his partners, hazer Tyler Pearson of Lousiville, Miss., and Pearson’s team of horses: bulldogging mount Sketch and hazing horse Barbara.
“It’s because of that man and those two horses that I’ve been able to get here and to have any success here,” Irwin said.
Anytime the Alabama cowboy can make money during ProRodeo’s championship event, it’s a success. He has placed in two go-rounds and has pocketed nearly $32,000. That’s not a bad three days of work.
“I feel like I got a good start,” he said. “He took off and ran, and I feel like I made a pretty good run. Of course, you can go through and nit-pick it, but I’m not going to. I’m happy with that.”
After posting a quick run on opening night, Irwin slipped a bit on Friday with a 5.7-second run. He opted for a little change, maybe for appearance, maybe for his psyche.
“The past few nights, I bulldogged with my belt on,” said Irwin, who attended Western Oklahoma College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships. “It might sound kind of stupid, but tonight I took it off because, well, I’m going to work; I’m going to get comfortable.
“Last night I was kind of calm, but I like to feel nervous, to feed off that, so tonight I had more of a go at it.”
He’s averaging more than $10,000 per night during the year-end championship. That’s a great wage.
“It’s a great start,” said Irwin, who sits fourth in the world standings with $118,458. “I just told myself, my batting average would be 66 percent right now; I’ve run three steers and placed in two rounds. If in every three rounds I place in two of them, I’ll be very happy.”