ALVA, Okla. – There was a time a few years ago that Wyatt Fields was learning techniques to better his curve ball.
He was a pitcher whose fastball reached up to 90 mph and carried him to a college team. About three years ago, though, injuries caught up with him. Throwing that many pitches can wear on young arms, but Fields didn’t stay bogged down long. Ever the competitor, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a steer wrestler.
“I was glad whenever I quit playing baseball, but I quit on a high note,” said Fields of Silsbee, Texas. “I’d had a good spring, and then I tore my shoulder up over the summer. A week later I was running steers and a month later I had my first horse.”
His father is Bryan Fields, a five-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier who set the Thomas & Mack Center arena record with a 3.0-second run during the 2001 championship. He didn’t want his son to rodeo, and baseball took control for most of Wyatt Fields’ life. In fact, he didn’t even ride a horse until he was 20 years old
This past weekend at the Garden City (Kansas) Community College rodeo, he proved the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He managed his way into the short go-round by getting past a mediocre steer, then won the final round with a 4.2-second run. He finished second overall and led a swarm of Northwestern bulldoggers to score points for the Rangers in western Kansas.
“I knew that first steer real well, because I’d had it two or three times before and knew he was one I could make the short round on but wasn’t a good enough steer to place very high,” Fields said. “I’d seen that second steer, too, and had run him a couple of times. I knew if I did everything right, I’d have a chance to win on him.
“I also knew the caliber of the guys ahead of me and the caliber of steers we had. I figured I’d try to make my run and see what happens. It was anybody’s game at that point.”
He made it his game and with it, he scored 110 points and plans to build on that with hopes of finishing the season among the top three steer wrestlers in the Central Plains Region to earn his spot in the College National Finals Rodeo. He has three events remaining to do so, but he’s got a good team with him. Of the top seven bulldoggers in the region, six are Rangers, with Kaden Greenfield of Lakeview, Oregon, leading the charge.
“I’m starting to catch my stride, and everything’s falling into place,” said Fields, who transferred last fall from Cisco (Texas) College. “I’m going to try to make a late run to see if I can make the CNFR.
“It’s really competitive at this school. It seems like all the guys have been successful this year, and I’m just glad I finally got to contribute a little bit.”
He’s leaned on a few people to help him make his way in this rough-and-tumble game of rodeo. Steer wrestlers not only ride fast horses, but they leap from their running mounts onto steers that are running just as hard. Once they’ve gathered the cow, they must then control it and turn it onto its side. While his father had great success two decades ago, this is all new to the second generation.
At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Wyatt Fields has some size going for him. Once he gets the technique down pat, there may be some special things happening in the arena. Until then, he continues to work at his craft. When he’s not getting help from his father, he leans on Northwestern rodeo coach Stockton Graves, an eight-time NFR bulldogger, and other NFR qualifiers who still live near Alva and have been on ProRodeo’s biggest stage: Bridger Anderson and 2020 world champion Jacob Edler.
“I’ve had great coaches, and they’ve all been extremely helpful,” Fields said. “The guys that are on the team are also really helpful. It’s not the easiest thing to do in the world. It takes an army, and we have the army to do it.”
At Garden City, five Rangers tallied points in bulldogging, though all only placed in one round. Greenfield finished in a tie for second place in the long round with a 4.3-second run. While Fields claimed the short round, Trisyn Kalawaia of Waiakea, Hawaii, finished in a tie for second and placed third overall; Cameron Fox of Tulsa was fourth in the round and placed sixth; and Jeremy Plourde of Carleton, Michigan, finished fifth in the championship and placed fifth overall.
Ben Jackson of Hudson Hope, British Columbia, earned a trip to the final round in both tie-down roping and team roping as a header. He and Zac Dunlap of Western Oklahoma State College shared the first-round win, then failed to secure a time in the championship. Jacob Haren of Erie, Colorado, tied his calf in 10.1 seconds to place in a tie for third in the long round, but he didn’t get a time on his second run.
Denton Oestmann moved into the regional lead in tie-down roping with his second-place finish. He scored second-place points in both the championship round and the aggregate and hopes to continue to score points through the final three events of the campaign.
For the women, Sierra Schott of McGlaughlin, South Dakota, placed in both rounds of barrel racing and finished fourth overall. Lindy Munsell of Arnett, Oklahoma, placed fifth in both go-rounds and the aggregate in breakaway roping.
“My dad’s tougher on me than I’d sometimes like, but he’s brutally honest, and we all need that at times,” Fields said. “Stockton keeps everybody out here honest. It’s kind of intimidating being here because the top guys in the region are all at practice.
“I’ve been blessed with as many coaches as I could think of. It definitely shows you how big of a family it is in bulldogging. It’s been quite a ride.”
The ride continues.
Courtesy of twisTEDrodeo.com