Kyle Irwin Anxious for Return to Finals

          KENNEWICK, WASH. – Kyle Irwin got a taste of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo last year for the first time, and he’s determined to have a second helping this December.

          The 25-year-old steer wrestler from Robertsdale, Ala. – who was representing Team Pendleton Whisky – took another step toward reaching that goal Tuesday night when he won the bulldogging at the Kennewick Wrangler Champions Challenge, presented by Justin Boots.

          Irwin’s time of 4.2 seconds edged Ty Erickson and earned him a check for $5,440.

          “I needed that," he said. "I knew it would help me out a bunch. I try not to look at the standings too much, but I knew how much I’d won. I’d like to get in my safe spot at about $65,000 and I’d feel good about getting back to Las Vegas.”

          Irwin was 14th in Monday’s Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings. The win in Kennewick moved him up five spots to ninth with $59,382.

          Erickson, who took second for Team Wrangler, moved past Hunter Cure and Luke Branquinho to take over first place in the world standings with $71,306.

          Irwin finished second in the world last year to Branquinho, who won his fifth gold buckle. Irwin earned $147,875 in 2014 and qualified for his first Wrangler NFR. He was fourth in the average race at the Finals while winning $87,963.

          “I got a taste of it last year, and the money at the Finals will be even bigger this year,” he said. “Everybody who has the heart of a champion will bust their butt to get there. The Finals is where you can make some serious money.”

          This was Irwin’s first win at a Wrangler Champions Challenge event; he was second at the WCC rodeos in Logandale, Nev., and Redding, Calif., earlier this year.

          “It felt good to win this one,” he said. “In these deals, you only have to beat five guys to get a check, but it’s 10 pretty good guys.”

          Other winners at the $123,600 rodeo were bareback riders Kaycee Feild (82 points on Big Bend Rodeo's Cougar Mountain) of Wrangler and Clint Cannon (82 points on Flying 5 Rodeo's Rio's Edge) of ProRodeo Gear, team ropers Derrick Begay and Travis Woodard (4.2 seconds) of Experience Kissimmee, saddle bronc rider Isaac Diaz (83 points on Big Bend Rodeo's Jamboree) of ProRodeo Gear, tie-down ropers Tuf Cooper (6.9 seconds) of Justin Boots and Adam Gray (6.9 seconds) of Wrangler, barrel racer Mary Walker (17.47 seconds) of Justin Boots and bull rider Chandler Bownds (89 points on Flying 5 Rodeo's Celebration) of RAM.

          It was Bownds' second consecutive win at a Champions Challenge event. He won the bull riding Aug. 16 at the Cody (Wyo.) WCC.

Mary Walker on Team Justin Boots is your barrel racing champion at the Wranglerchampions challenge in Kennewick, WA.

Horse Heaven Round-up Champions Challenge

Kennewick, Wash., Aug. 25

All-around cowboy: Trevor Brazile, $1,280, tie-down roping and team roping.

Bareback riding: 1. (tie) Kaycee Feild, on Big Bend Rodeo's Cougar Mountain, and Clint Cannon, on Flying 5 Rodeo's Rio's Edge, 82 points, $4,800 each; 3. Steven Peebles, 80, $3,040; 4. Austin Foss, 79, $2,080; 5. Richmond Champion, 77, $1,280. 

Steer wrestling: 1. Kyle Irwin, 4.2 seconds, $5,440; 2. Ty Erickson, 4.4, $4,160; 3. Seth Brockman, 4.8, $3,040; 4. (tie) Casey Martin, and Trevor Knowles, 4.9, $1,680 each. 

Team roping: 1. Derrick Begay/Travis Woodard, 4.2 seconds, $5,440 each; 2. Dustin Bird/Paul Eaves, 4.4, $4,160; 3. Chad Masters/Kory Koontz, 4.5, $3,040; 4. Jake Cooper/Cory Petska, 4.6, $2,080; 5. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 5.0, $1,280. 

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Isaac Diaz, 83 points on Big Bend Rodeo's Jamboree, $3,944; 2. (tie) Heith DeMoss, and Jacobs Crawley, 79, $2,610 each; 4. (tie) Rusty Wright, Taos Muncy, and Bradley Harter, 77, $812 each. 

Tie-down roping: 1. (tie) Tuf Cooper, and Adam Gray, 6.9 seconds, $4,800 each; 3. (tie) Cory Solomon, and Marty Yates, 7.3, $2,560 each; 5. Hunter Herrin, 7.6, $1,280. 

Barrel racing: 1. Mary Walker, 17.47 seconds, $5,440; 2. Nancy Hunter, 17.51, $4,160; 3. Callie DuPerier, 17.52, $3,040; 4. Carley Richardson, 17.70, $2,080; 5. Sarah Rose McDonald, 17.86, $1,280. 

Bull riding: 1. Chandler Bownds, 89 points on Flying 5 Rodeo's Celebration, $5,440; 2. Shane Proctor, 87, $4,160; 3. (tie) Joe Frost, and Parker Breding, 86, $2,560 each; 5. Sage Kimzey, 82, $1,280. 

Total payoff: $123,600. Stock contractors: Flying 5 Rodeo and Big Bend Rodeo. Rodeo secretary: Edie Longfellow. Officials: Butch Kirby, Terry Carlon and Gary Case. Timers: Myrna Weber and Stacey Jo Dowton. Announcer: Roger Mooney. Bullfighters: Ryan Wilson and Rowdy Barry. Clown/barrelman: JJ Harrison. Flankmen: Hans Hennings and Jose Castanon. Pickup men: David Lewis, Bill Trump and Ricky Shannon. Photographers: Al Berger and Bill Lawless. Music director: Jason Buchanan.

Read more about the Kennewick Wrangler Champions Challenge in the Sept. 11 ProRodeo Sports News.