By going for broke, rodeo hand Dean Gorsuch won his first-ever world steer wrestling title in 2006 at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas. Gorsuch also won the steer wrestling average title at the NFR and $194,268.
Dean Gorsuch could have eased his way around the last round and still won. But that's not his style. If Gorsuch was going to win, it was going to be on his terms. The reward was big. The risk bigger.
But a career that began with a gamble may as well continue to be marked by them.
In March of 2005 and with his wife Bekah's blessing, Gorsuch walked away from his steady job as a pipeline welder to become a full-time professional rodeo cowboy.
He always held the dream of competing full-time, "But we didn't have the money to go," said Gorsuch. The impending birth of a son, Taydon, also filtered those dreams.
He would win the Wrangler Tour round and finish second overall at RodeoHouston. At the urging of family, he loaded his horses and pursued his goals. With plenty of help from friends along the way, Gorsuch would qualify for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and finish sixth in the final world standings.
"If it wasn't for my wife, there is no way I could do this," said the large Nebraska cowboy. "She's the backbone of this rodeo."
Steer wrestlers like K.C. Jones and Birch Negaard took Gorsuch under their out-sized wings and guided Gorsuch in 2005. In 2006, Gorsuch traveled with Ronnie Fields, Rodney Burks and Jon Ragatz in 2006.
A solid 6-2, 240-pounds, the 27-year-old Gorsuch won RodeoHouston this year, along with the Tour Championship Finale in Dallas, Texas, Oakley, Utah, and Livingston, Mont., to make him No. 1 in the world standings for the regular season.
He would ride Burks's great horse, Zan, at the National Finals Rodeo. Burks was his hazer.
"Zan, he makes my job easier," said Gorsuch said of the three-time AQHA steer wrestling horse of the year. "Rodney is just awesome. He sets up those runs."
Gorsuch was steady as a metronome during the 2006 NFR. He placed in five rounds and won the fifth. His slowest run was 6.5 seconds in the sixth when he had to reach long to keep his championship dreams within his grasp. "That could have been trouble," Gorsuch offered with a big smile.
Gorsuch's calm consistency was a sharp contrast to Luke Branquinho's frenzied pursuit of the gold buckle. A world champion in 2004, Branquinho had missed 2005 because of a torn pectoral muscle. He announced his comeback with a win in the first round and would add three more to ratchet up the heat on Gorsuch. Branquinho actually led Gorsuch by more than $20,000 entering the 10th and final round of the NFR.
"Luke is awesome," said Gorsuch. "For a guy trailing you like that, he was actually ahead, so I had to go get him."
Gorsuch led the high-paying average by almost nine seconds entering the final round. A soft clean run could still win him a world title.
Soft clean runs didn't get him in world title contention.
"Yeah, I am leading the average by a bunch," Gorsuch said of his mindset. "People told me all week, don't break the barrier. But I tell you what, I want to go out and make my run. If I break the barrier to try to win the world then I break the barrier.
"I just had to make the best run I could."
Gorsuch put down the steer in a swift 3.6 seconds. He let out a yell and threw his hat across the arena as the crowd roared in approval.
Gorsuch also won the average and a total of $83,209 at the NFR. He finished with $194,268 for 2006.
"This means the world to me," he said of the world title. "I mean, second to the birth of my son, you can't imagine what this means to me."