Dustin Egusquiza was a little off the barrier in Round 3 at the 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but that small miscalculation only allowed him to further prove how much rope he can actually throw.
[Related: Egusquiza and Graves Win Round 2]
His partner Travis Graves was able to take a second swing over the steer's back after the switch to make sure he got him caught, and they still stopped the clock in 4.2 seconds, worth 26,230.77 world standings points. This second-straight, go-round win holds their spots at first in the heading and heeling world standings with 144,829.89 and 137,167.86 points and first in the NFR average with a time of 12.9 seconds on three head.
"Last night, I knew we were fast when the run was over," said Egusquiza, 25, who again rode 16-year-old Jack. "Tonight, I don't really know. I felt a little bit off the barrier and had to reach a little more than I wanted to. I knew we were out in the middle and we were going to get a good finish. I looked up at the clock and it said 4.2. That kind of surprised me. I didn't think we were that fast. But Travis heeled him fast and I got a good face."
With the 2-foot-under barrier, Egusquiza still had the rope on the horns before his horse's hind feet left the mouth of the box. They had coincidentally ran in practice on Tuesday, when he stepped a tick to the right. Egusquiza got it on him fast enough in Round 3, though, that wasn't a factor.
"I didn't throw all that fast tonight," Graves, 36, added. "The steer kind of hit, like in the warm-up, the steer kind of hit pretty fast. I just wanted to make sure and line him out and see what he was going to do, and that's what I did. He had it on him fast enough to give us enough time to do that."
Egusquiza, originally from Marianna, Florida, lives in Mineral Wells, Texas, and Graves, originally from Jay, Oklahoma, lives in Bluff Dale, Texas. With their home arenas only about 45 minutes apart, they've been roping together every day to perfect their run.
Are you tired of reading? Listen to Egusquiza and Graves on "The Score" here.
"We've been roping a lot," Graves said. "About every day. Not just running a ton, but I'd say about 30 steers, riding our horses and just trying to get ready for this."
Between go-rounds, both men have been going home every night to put their horses in their own stalls and sleep in their own beds—quite the departure from Las Vegas' grueling pace.
"It's everyday life for us," Graves said. "We get to go home, sleep in our own beds, get up and do what we do. I put some round bales out today and just kind of ran a few...I ran maybe 10 steers this morning just to kind of free my horse up a little bit. I ran maybe 3 steers on Chip and the rest on another horse I have."
"I put hay out for my cows, too," Egusquiza added. "Other than that I was kind of going crazy sitting in the house because I didn't have anything to do today. But I'm probably going to rope some tomorrow."
Fellow world-standings and average contenders Luke Brown and Joseph Harrison won fourth in the go-round with a 4.5-second run, worth 11,000, and moved to second in the average with a time of 18.70 seconds on three head. They trail Egusquiza and Graves by 15,972.61 and 27,676.55, respectively.
Notable no-times were Cody Snow and Junior Nogueira, with a miss on the heel side, Colby Lovell and Paul Eaves, who had their first miss on the head side. TRJ
Erich Rogers and Paden Bray: 5.1 + 5
Chad Masters and Wesley Thorp: 5.0
Charly Crawford and Logan Medlin: 4.7 + 10
Levi Simpson and Shay Carroll: 4.4
Clay Tryan and Jake Long: NT
Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins: 4.3
Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves: 4.2
Colby Lovell and Paul Eaves: NT
Cody Snow and Junior Nogueira: NT
Clay Smith and Jade Corkill: 4.4 + 5
Luke Brown and Joseph Harrison: 4.5
Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan: NT
Kolton Schmidt and Hunter Koch: NT
Jeff Flenniken and Tyler Worley: 5.5
Nelson Wyatt and Levi Lord: 10.9