Months spent qualifying. A lifetime of watching, learning and honing his skills.
This weekend, Wynn Schaack, of Wall, S.D., will put his experience to the test – competing against the top steer wrestlers in the world at RFD-TV’s The American, the biggest two-day payout in rodeo.
“It’s exciting,” Schaack said of the qualification. “Kind of surreal.”
Schaack’s journey to The American officially began last summer when he won the reserve champion steer wrestling title at the National High School Rodeo Association Finals. That earned him one qualification for The American Semi-Finals. He needed two.
He qualified again in Montana and a third time in Texas.
When the dust settled, Schaack was one of 170 steer wrestlers who made it to The American Semi-Finals. He advanced to the top 30 upon winning the second round of slack Feb. 24, then subsequently won the first performance of the semi-finals Thursday.
By Saturday, Schaack had entered the Top 10 lineup and advanced to the final qualifying round on Sunday. He threw his steer in a time of 4.01 seconds Sunday – securing a fourth-place finish on the leaderboard and becoming one of six underdogs to earn a spot at The American.
It’s a huge accomplishment for any rodeo cowboy, but especially one who is 19.
“I was definitely nervous being up against that level of competition,” Schaack said. “But, my dad always told me to think of every performance as just another run – don’t get too worried about it, just focus on what I do best. That’s what I did, and I guess it worked.”
Schaack hasn’t had much time to celebrate. After the competition Sunday, he drove all night from Texas to attend classes at MPCC’s campus in McCook on Monday. He’s currently studying agribusiness there and is an active member of the college’s rodeo team.
His teammates will be among the many cheering him on when he enters the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas this weekend for The American as will his family.
“My family is in the middle of calving right now, so my mom and brother had to stay home during the semi-finals and take care of stuff at the ranch,” Schaack said. “I’m hoping my mom at least can come down for The American. My dad and grandma will be there as well.”
There are a variety of ways the general public can watch live coverage of the event. Options can be found at rfdtvamericanrodeo.com.
“This whole experience has been amazing,” said Schaack. “I’ve been meeting a lot of people and have really stepped up my competitiveness because of it. I’ve always had a strong drive for rodeo, but now I want it more than ever.”