It seems when you have success in a place, it’s easier to replicate it. The Pool B rodeo contestants showed that as the second half of the Calgary Stampede rodeo kicked off Tuesday.
Tyler Waguespack is an energetic man in a hurry. And he didn’t waste any time getting business done at Calgary, catching his first steer in just 3.5 seconds, for the go-round win and his first $5,500.
“I love the first round here at Calgary,” grinned the Louisiana competitor. “This is my fourth year here and it’s the third time I’ve won the first round.”
“I told my wife before I came in here, I love the first round just about everywhere we go to. I guess I’ve got a little bit more grit in the first round to try to get it started right. I love to get things started off with momentum and I feel like we’ve got that right now, so we’ll try to keep it up.”
Waguespack headed out of town with the $100,000 prize just two years ago.
“That’s the biggest cheque that I ever won in my entire life. That was a truly blessed day. I was so happy to be able to be standing on the stage here in Calgary on that Sunday. That was incredible. The big bronze is the centerpiece of the whole house. Hopefully we can get another one to add to it.”
Matt Shiozawa is another Pool B contender who already has one Stampede bronze in his house. The man from Idaho sizzled through his run in tie-down roping to record a 7.1 second time, and snag the first place paycheque of $5500 to get his week rolling. His wife and three young daughters met him behind the chutes after his run to share his excitement in the win.
Shiozawa admits he, like so many of the other competitors, came into Calgary tired after the fourth of July run, which saw them competing at rodeos from Williams Lake BC to Cody Wyoming.
“That’s why I like this place. For one, I get to grab my little crew, and we get to come up here and get treated really well, and we get to enjoy it. This place is special the way I can get a ‘good luck’ kiss before (the run) from my wife and get a ‘good job Daddy’ when I’m done.”
Shiozawa won the Calgary title in 2010 in a dramatic rope-off with Fred Whitfield, with the help of his 18-year-old horse Chuck. What made Tuesday’s win more special is that Chuck’s renewed health is helping the Idaho cowboy to the winner’s circle again.
“I had some good luck with some vets, and we went a little different route and we’ve just got our horse back. I kind of thought we were getting down there to the end. I mean, he is back as good as 2014 form, and I won second in 2014.”
Shiozawa says you can’t overestimate the value of a good rope horse.
“You go from hoping you can win to knowing you can win. It’s that much. When you’re on your good horse and you know they feel well, you can just feel it, and you can feel the confidence in them too, I swear.”
Defending barrel racing champion Hailey Kinsel and her great horse Sister rolled into town and didn’t miss a beat picking up her winning ways that got her the $100,000 prize last year. The Texas barrel racer flew around the pattern and tied the arena record of 16.99 seconds (set in 2017 by Tiany Schuster), to add another $5500 to her Calgary account.
“It was stupid fast today,” marveled the talented rider from Texas. “The whole barrel race was. The ground’s exceptional, the best I’ve ever seen Calgary’s ground. It’s really cool for all of us to be able to come and run that fast.”
“I felt my first barrel was pretty good. Second and third I kind of was a little late moving over on both of them. So I kind of thought I was going to have extra time on the back side but I guess her corners were quick enough. She really opened up and ran home really nice so that helps, too.”
Dawson Hay knows what winning at the Calgary Stampede looks like. His father, Rod, was a four-time champion in the saddle bronc riding and he earned his own novice title just two years ago. The 20-year-old began his week with a stellar 88.5-point ride on Sunset Strip.
“I had a great horse of Kesler’s, kind of the one I wanted out of the pen, to be honest,” said Hay. “I’d seen him before. They placed on him a few times already this year, so I knew if I got him spurred out good, and did my job, I was pretty confident in being able to pull a good cheque out of this round.”
The cheque was a good one indeed, $5,500, for first place. Rod Hay was one of the first to shake Dawson’s hand when got back to the chutes.
“With my Dad having so much success in this arena, it’s pretty cool to follow in his footsteps. But I like to pave my own way as far as that goes. I don’t like to think of it as I have to be as good as my Dad. I’d like to be as good as I possibly can.”
It was a sweet victory for Ryan Dirteater in the bull riding, when he claimed the top prize for a powerful performance on a bull called Strong Arm, resulting in an 88.5, and netting the Oklahoma bullrider his $5,500 Calgary bonus.
“It was the best feeling,” said Dirteater. “The book I got on that bull was they said ‘you’re gonna love him’. To win your first round of Calgary, it’s amazing. I’ve been here three times, and this is my first bronze trophy. I was talking to my family before I came and I wanted a bronze trophy to put on the shelf. And the first round, I did it. It’s an awesome rodeo.”
“I’ve been close before, but I finally got it and it’s a great feeling.”
The $5,500 first place payday in bareback riding went to Minnesota, home for Tanner Aus. He got to experience his first eight seconds on Critical Smile, marking a 87.5.
“I got to watch a couple videos of it before this afternoon. I knew what the horse was, but it’s good always to see what they do or might do,” said Aus. “It felt like he had a phenomenal day, just hardly went anywhere, stayed right in front of the chutes, really electric. I just did my best and I’m glad it worked out.”
Aus had to give up his Calgary spot last year due to injury, so was elated to get the invitation to come back and compete again.
“You always have that thought cross your head like maybe I’ll never get to go back to Calgary. It was one of those calls that just left me smiling all day long. Then I started getting the emails coming to get all the stuff worked out and it started to sink in I was going back. It’s pretty exciting. I’m glad to be back here.”