After a strong final round at the Fort Worth Stockyards, Nelson Wyatt and Logan Medlin ended up on top of the leaderboard at RFD-TV's The American Semi-Finals after laying down two runs in 8.1 seconds.
"I was one spot from making The American last year so whenever we went 3.5 I felt pretty confident that we made it," said Wyatt, the 2017 Resistol Rookie All-Around and Heading Champion. "I did not know that we were going to win the Semi-Finals."
The duo roped their first steer in the semi-finals in 4.6 seconds and came back to rope their final steer in 3.5 seconds, giving them an early lead in the average in the final performance.
"I didn’t know that it was going to be an average," Wyatt admitted. "I thought it was a clean-slate short round, so we just kind of caught the first one just to make it back and then when they said it was an average, we came back and had TWade’s 3.2 steer (Tyler Wade's and Cory Petska's first-round steer), so I knew we had a good steer. I just went at the barrier and gave Logan a chance. I knew that if I got a good start and we caught the steer we would be fast enough anyway. I didn’t realize we were that fast."
"I wasn’t by no means thinking that we could be 3.2," added Medlin, who won the Wildfire XXII Open to the World. "That was the fastest run that I’ve ever seen go. Nelson did a good job. He scored good and had it on him fast. Really, he did all the work. I just kind of caught him. A good steer and a good spin makes my job a lot easier."
Wyatt and Medlin had not planned to rope together at the semi-finals but, due to Wyatt having qualified with Lane Mitchell, who had three qualification spots, Wyatt called Medlin to rope.
"I qualified at Austin Robertson’s with Levi (Lord), but then the spot that I had with Logan, I qualified with Lane Mitchell. Lane already had two spots; that was his third spot. They wouldn’t let him heel three, of course. Honestly, when we got done with the jackpot, I was thinking about who I could call and see. That was the last jackpot that you could get qualified for, so almost everyone had both of them. Logan and I were going to rope at the Lone Star Shootout and so I thought of him and called him. Luckily, he only had one spot."
Wyatt rode his 16-year-old roan, Coon Dog in the semi-finals, but plans on jumping on his 11-year-old grey gelding, Teddy Bear, in the first round at the AT&T Stadium.
"I rode Coon Dog, who I mostly ride in the winter when the arenas are kind of small," Wyatt said. "He scores good and faces good. I haven’t decided yet. I’m going to probably ride Teddy Bear in the first round. He’s a little freer than the roan. If I had to do it right now, I’d ride the grey, but I’m still back-and-forth in my head. I imagine if I get back to the final four, I’ll probably be on the roan."
Medlin was on his 11-year-old sorrel gelding, Drago, whom he rides just about everywhere.
"He’s the one I ride—if I can—if the chips are down," Medlin said.
Medlin also qualified with regular season partner Charly Crawford after they knocked down two steers in 10.89 seconds to place fifth in the top six. But, due to the new rules for The American, Crawford had the opportunity to pick up Billie Jack Saebens.
"Dirk Webb called me yesterday morning (Sunday, March 1) and said, ‘The rules are different this year. Whoever you place highest with is who you’ll rope with at Dallas and, if you make it twice, your other partner will have the opportunity to pick somebody that didn’t qualify but made it to the performances,’” Medlin explained. "When it was over, I placed higher with Nelson and it was a done deal right then. There wasn’t any deciding. They just went into it all predetermined. I was really excited that me and Charly made it just for Charly’s sake. He’s roped outstanding this year and he deserves to be there, too."
Medlin not only gets to compete for the $1-million and watch his regular season partner Crawford have the same opportunity, he's also going to watch his younger sister, Abby Medlin, compete for her fair share in the breakaway roping.
"I’m real excited for her and proud of her," Medlin said. "Because of stuff like The American that’s included breakaway, it gives her a chance to make it through the qualifying system and have a chance to run at a lot of money that breakaway ropers aren’t used to getting to rope for. Not just her, but all the girls that made it; I think they deserve it. I know Abby works at it and she doesn’t get to go as much as she used to now that she has a job. I root for her and I know she does the same for me."
Despite Medlin's excitement to rope for a shot at the $1-million prize, he's keeping a cool perspective as he prepares for Arlington.
"I don’t know if it’s the right or the wrong way to look at it," Medlin said. "I try not to read too much into it. Yes, it’s a big deal and it’s a cool thing that you get to rope at, but when you back in there it’s no different than what it is at the weekly roping. It’s just two guys trying to rope a steer. I know it’s bigger than that but the bottom line, it’s not any different than what we do every single day."