When they connect, they win. It’s about that simple for Dustin Egusquiza and Levi Lord, who just won the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and $22,500 per man the wild way with a 50% catch rate. Batting .500 would be hitting it out of the park in baseball. But the go-for-broke concept is still somewhat of a head-scratcher for some in the cowboy sport.
“I put us through some stress,” admitted a relieved Egusquiza said right after they won the Finals, and took the truck-bed victory lap that comes with the San Antonio crown. “I thank Levi for staying hooked. He’s there to rope two feet every time I turn a steer.”
You won’t see Lord throw his head back when his header fails to hit hair. Levi’s not complaining. In fact, I’m pretty sure he hasn’t stopped smiling since these two joined forces.
“I don’t think there’s any reason to change anything,” he said. “Our best chance is going fast. That’s just who we are. Our run might look a little bit different in the summertime, just because the setups are different and Dustin will be riding a different horse. But as far as either of us backing off and taking extra swings, I don’t really see that happening.”
Egusquiza and Lord ran six steers in San Antonio.
Bracket 4, Round 1: Dustin missed
Bracket 4, Round 2: 3.7 for first and $2,500
Bracket 4, Round 3: Dustin missed
That $2,500 let Egusquiza and Lord sneak out of their bracket and into the Semifinals, splitting last hole to advance with 2022 Rookie Header of the Year Tanner James and defending BFI Champion Heeler Billie Jack Saebens.
Semifinals: Dustin missed
Wild Card Round: 3.5 for first and $5,000
Finals: 4.1 for first and $15,000
So you see, it’s true—they batted a thousand with a first-place check every time they stopped the clock at the reigning 2022 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year.
“Both of us are aggressive, especially at these winter rodeos,” Egusquiza said. “As far as my game plan at San Antonio goes, my best way of looking at it was to go for first. Once you start advancing, you’re in a scenario where you need to win first every time anyway. In our case, then we had to win first in the Wild Card to move on. We aren’t going to do that every time we back in the box all year. But a rodeo like San Antonio works out best for me by going for first.
“Put me at a place like San Antonio, and trying to win first is the play every time. When I show up at Reno, I’m not going to send it over the box in the first round. It’s all situational, and that just doesn’t make sense.”
Lord’s all-in on their agreed-upon team beast mode.
“I think our strategy is pretty cut and dried, especially in a tournament-style rodeo like San Antonio,” Levi agreed. “Dustin was kind of fighting his head when he missed a couple. I told him, ‘Don’t worry about it. Keep throwing fast and going at ’em.’
“I never worry about him. The last thing I’m worried about is Dustin’s heading. He’s amazing, and when money advances you at a rodeo like San Antonio, it’s about getting paid today.”
Getting paid so handsomely at San Antonio jumped Egusquiza and Lord up to #2 in the world standings, second only to 2023 fireballers Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins.
“A big win like this boosts our confidence, and sets us up for a good year,” said Egusquiza, who rode his sorrel horse Jack at San Antonio. “We feel like we’ve been roping pretty good, and having $29,000 won is huge. We made the Semifinals at Denver and Fort Worth. We hadn’t won any real big money before now, but it all adds up.
“We only had $9,000 won when we woke up Saturday morning, but that’s not bad for four rodeos. And we went to sleep Saturday night with $29,000 won. That’s a big boost.”
You can say that again, and his heeler did.
“It’s a huge deal to go win one of the big ones early,” said Lord, who’s been riding his bay Birdie. “It gets you out from behind the eight-ball as far as making the Finals and getting to the safe number, which is usually $85,000-$90,000. To be a third of the way there in five rodeos is pretty cool. That’s a better start than I’ve ever had. It feels good to get a jump on 2023.”