HOUSTON, TX (WAFB) - Gonzales native Tyler Waguespack hasn't slowed down since claiming the National Finals Rodeo Top Gun and Steer Wrestling Championships for 2016 in Las Vegas.
Waguespack won the Super Bowl of Rodeo in December and remains right at the top of the leaderboard to start 2017. Waguespack doesn't get any "home games" like his NFL counterparts, so advancing to the finals of Rodeo Houston this weekend is as close as it gets.
It doesn't take long to see why this 26-year-old bulldogger has already risen to World Championship status. The former East Ascension student has clocked a couple of 3.2 second takedowns aboard his Landry's Cadillac mount. The record in his specialty is three seconds flat.
"You have two animals involved that you're in control of and one that you're not in control of, so you've got to watch what you're doing, make sure everything's lining up just right," said Waguespack. "And smooth beats fast, so the less mistakes we make, the faster we can be."
Waguespack's rise to prominence has happened fast. After four years of high school rodeo at EA, he settled on steer wrestling for a career.
"I had really enjoyed calf-roping, but I don't know, it's an itch that you can't scratch. Everybody's got their thing. If a kid loves football, that's what he wants to be and he tries his hardest. And I wanted to be a steer wrestler. And we worked hard and made it happen," Waguespack said, referring to his dad and coach.
After a four-year wait as a professional, Waguespack qualified for the National Finals in 2015 and claimed the title in just his second try. And he's got the truck to prove it. There's an irony in his prize, a Dodge Ram pickup going to a guy who spends 11 months a year on the road leading up to December's Top Gun title in Las Vegas.
Waguespack is one of the smallest competitors in his sport, but didn't let the bigger guys from places where rodeo is more popular keep him from reaching his goal with hard work.
"This is the Super Bowl of rodeo. I love Louisiana, where I'm from. I mean, we boil crawfish, we hunt squirrels, we do all kinds of Louisiana stuff. Rodeo here, it's not as big as it is out there. We travel, go to a hundred rodeos throughout the year just to qualify to go to Las Vegas. And to go in there and become the world champion at the end of the year, anybody in this sport, that's kind of the main goal. It's the highest feat you can get," Waguespack explained.