PENDLETON — While the eyes and minds of the Pendleton rodeo committee were on the Round-Up Arena on Monday as the historic rodeo prepares for its 102nd showing this week, another competition played out just down the road. On the edge of town along U.S. Highway 395, a host of steer wrestlers gathered on the property of John Lindstrom to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of the man’s parents.
And win a little money while they’re in town for the big event later this week.
“It’s just a little something extra for these boys,” Lindstrom said. “I just open up the door and they come in.”
By the time all the cowboys had finished their runs — the Top 15 taking two with the short round final — Tyler Waguespack of Gonzales, La., was doing the most celebrating. The cowboy making his first career stop at the Round-Up this week was tied for third going into the the final round with a 5.8-second takedown but shaved a second and a half off that in his last run.
He took the overall title with that 4.2 time and walked away with $2,762 — the largest portion of the $9,800 total purse.
Random draw placed Waguespack last in the final go. Wyatt Smith had set the pace with a 10.6 time on two heads for the overall lead. Waguespack needed a 4.7 or better to win, 0.4 faster than any run of the day. But he liked his chances, even if he was going last.
“I’d have preferred to go first, get it out of the way,” he said. “Coming into that ride I knew I had a good steer, though.”
Waguespack bolted out of the box, cutting down on the steer’s head start immediately. The cowboy hung off the side of his horse within the first second as he snatched the animal around the horns and drove it to the dirt. Waguespack’s 4.2-second time beat all others by nearly a full second for the day.
It also cut a large slice into Smith’s winnings.
“That little bugger usually comes out of nowhere. He’s a real good bulldogger,” said Smith, who tied with Jake Rinehart for the first-round lead at 5.6 seconds.
Smith’s final-round time of 5.2 seconds would have been enough to crown him the average winner if not for Waguespack. He still won a handsome $2,391.
Smith, of Rexburg, Idaho, is making his third trip to Pendleton for the September rodeo but had never been by Lindstrom’s sidepot event until this year. The cowboys — especially those who’ve traveled extensively to get here — truly appreciate the extra shot at winnings, he said. And even when they don’t pick up a check, its another great opportunity to do what they love.
“These guys are great. We always like to have these little events,” Wyatt said. “They’re a lot of fun and a great way to kick off the week.”
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.