The man with the midas touch in steer wrestling is Kyle Irwin. He just can’t get enough of the Calgary cash, coming out early in the round and throwing down the gauntlet in 3.6 seconds. This time the rest of the field came close, but didn’t unseat his lead, so for the second straight day he made the victory lap.
“This is a blast,” drawled the southerner with fast hands.
This time, however, he used his own horse, which may not have been the wise choice.
“I didn’t think he would get that aggressive. He got pretty strong. I guess he thought we were racing, and I was ‘whoa, whoa’. He was like Speedy Gonzales out there,” he chuckled.
“Tyler Waguespack won the round the first day on that steer, so I knew he was a good chance. Now I’ve just got to make sure I do my job. Scooter does his job every time and Tyler Pearson does a phenomenal job hazing. So it’s me: don’t break the barrier, get your feet on the ground, and then slow down to be fast. That doesn’t make sense sometimes but you can get in a hurry and tangle things up, so it worked out today and I’m glad for it.”
Irwin’s dominating performance has already padded his Calgary account with $15,500, and that’s got his family doing some wishing and dreaming.
“My wife, already this morning, was looking at some stud horses she wouldn’t mind breeding (our horses) to this next season, and some other things. And I was like ‘let’s just slow down a tick’ – we’ve got to make sure we pay the van payment and the truck payment first!”
“I’m already leaving with a pocketful of money but Sunday, I think I’ll take care of business and try to get a piece of that hundred.”
Make it two in a row for the PBR’s number one man this season. Jose Vitor Leme, who is among the Brazilians now living in Texas to ride bulls, rode out an eight second storm on Rebel Soul for a spectacular 91 points. Again, he chalked up the $5500 win, pushing his Calgary earnings to $12,500 on top of Pool B.
Jose Vitor Leme
“I’d seen some videos of him,” said Leme, about the bull he drew. “I just thank God for another great ride today here. I’m very happy for this.”
The bull pulled everything but a knife on the 5’6”, 139 lb rider.
“Yes, different movements. He turned right, and one jump in, turned left. It’s very difficult for me. He’s a hard bull, he’s a great bull.”
Leme came to bull riding after playing soccer competitively at home in Brazil.
“I think soccer helped me because of agility, which helped me out for riding bulls now. Physically, my body is good for riding bulls now.”
While Leme still enjoys playing soccer with his friends, he insists he still prefers bull riding.
In the barrel racing, it was more of a surprise that records weren’t broken than that Hailey Kinsel won. The amazing Sister made a smooth run around the arena, stopping the clock in 17.04.
“It wasn’t exactly a record round today,” confessed Kinsel, the current world and Calgary champion. “The ground was a little bit deeper. My horse turns so dang tight she stayed inside the ruts and was fine.”
Last year, Kinsel won three of the four days in her pool and she’s already got three victories this year, with one day to go.
“She does really well here. I don’t know what it is about this pen, but she just loves it here, so it’s good for us.”
Kinsel’s Calgary earnings already sit at $16,500, far ahead of the rest of her counterparts in Pool B.
It was another stellar day of saddle bronc riding. And it looked like Dawson Hay was heading to the stage for a third straight bronze, after he strapped a whopping 89 mark on a horse called Patches. But then his traveling buddy, and another rising Canadian bronc riding star, Kolby Wanchuk, nodded his head on a Calgary horse called Zoaria Hills. It was an exotic flight pattern, but Wanchuk piloted his way through it, landing with a half point more. The 89.5 gave him his first Calgary cash, a $5500 bonus.
“She was real bucky today,” stated Wanchuk, who turns 23 next week. “I had her this winter in Houston and I don’t think she bucked quite as hard, and I didn’t get along with her quite as good as I did today.”
“I know she’s got some moves and some different things going on, but she was throwing the power to me and it felt good.”
Hay’s second place payday keeps him well ahead of the Pool B pack with a tally of $15,500.
“It’s been awesome seeing Dawson do so good the last couple of days,” said Wanchuk. “We came up through the novice and amateurs together. I was excited for him the last couple days and I was wanting to do it today. He came out and put up a big score and I just let it all hang out, to see if I could beat him. I guess it worked out,” smiled Wanchuk.
“It’s unreal the number of young guys coming up and getting it figured out and going for it, rodeoing hard, and trying to take over the world.”
The fastest time of the week in the tie-down roping was turned in by Texan Timber Moore, in just 6.8 seconds.
“I was sure enough behind the 8-ball,” admitted Moore, the 2015 Stampede champion. “I was needing to win something today just to give myself a chance for tomorrow, so I don’t end up in the Wild Card. Hopefully I can win something tomorrow to get through to Sunday.”
“It’s the third round for us, so guys are getting the start down, and getting everything figured out. More than likely, the times should progressively get quicker as the set goes on.”
Moore’s earnings sit at $7000 now after the win, but it’s defending Stampede champion Tuf Cooper who’s been steadily placing and is the frontrunner at the pay window, with $11,500.
Bareback rider Orin Larsen was relieved to finally dip into the Calgary money pit, when he strapped an 86.5 on the horse Mulberry Hill.
“It’s been a long time coming,” sighed the Manitoba raised cowboy. “You’ve got to have the right horsepower underneath you and a lot of guys here are riding awesome. Comes down to ultimately a riding contest.”
“It’s getting the monkey off your back (to place). We kind of come here expecting great things. When you don’t win a cheque the first two rounds, it kind of starts playing on your mind. I’m pretty fortunate to have a good wife, to keep me all there when things don’t go so well.”
“Now that I’ve got some money going towards Sunday, I can relax a little bit more,” said Larsen.
As it turned out, Larsen’s mark was surpassed by the Pool B first day winner, Tanner Aus, when he spurred to an 88 on Bloody Mary, when he was given a re-ride opportunity, so the Minnesota man collected the $5500, giving Larsen $4500. Aus is the overall leader now with $15,000 won.
The Calgary Stampede novice champions were crowned Thursday, with Australian Locky Sheppard capturing the novice saddle bronc riding honors, marketing 143.5 on two rides.
“The Stampede is bigger than I ever imagined,” said Sheppard, who goes to college in Snyder, TX. “It was kind of overwhelming. I’d seen it a lot on TV. I knew it was big, I never thought it would be this big.”
“The horses over here are a lot bigger and stronger and take some adjusting to.
Jake Kesl of Idaho was named the novice bareback winners, after he chalked up 219.5 points on three rides.
“Calgary is my first Canadian rodeo,” said the 19-year-old. “First time crossing the border, being out of the States. My passport actually showed up two days before I left.”
The Wyoming college student has benefited from the instruction of four-time world champion bareback rider Marvin Garrett.
“It’s helped me out so much just being there this past year.”