A Mid-Plains Community College steer wrestler is vying for the biggest paycheck of his life in Fort Worth, Texas this week.
Wynn Schaack, of Wall, S.D., is working his way up the ranks in the semi-finals of RFD-TV's The American - the world's richest one-day rodeo.
"It's exciting," said Schaack. "Being at this level has definitely made my competition stronger. It has been a lot of fun."
The event pits the top athletes in the world from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association against up-and-coming champions from the semi-finals. The total payout through qualifiers, the semi-finals and The American, itself, is $2.35 million.
Schaack has had a good run so far. He made it to the the semi-finals by competing at three qualifying jackpots – one in Montana, one in Texas and one in Rock Springs, Wyo., where he took the reserve champion steer wrestling title at the National High School Rodeo Association Finals.
A total of 170 steer wrestlers qualified for The American Semi-Finals this year. Schaack advanced to the top 30 on Monday – winning the second round of slack with a time of 3.6 seconds.
He's up next during the first semi-finals performance at the Cowtown Coliseum on Thursday. The top 10 contestants after the third semi-finals performance on Saturday will compete again on Sunday, and of those, six will punch their tickets for The American March 7-8 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The territory might be new to him, but Schaack has a lot of things to remind him of home. Those include his horse – raised on his family's ranch and sired by the family's proven heading, heeling and calf roping stallion, PC Frosty Calibar.
Wynn also has a support system in his father, Clay, a former PRCA steer wrestler, who is hazing for him, a family friend and a cousin, Brandy Schaack, of Hyannis, is competing at the semi-finals in breakaway roping.
Although they can't be there in-person, his MPCC Rodeo Team teammates are cheering him on from Nebraska as well. Wynn is a steer wrestler, team roper and tie-down roper on the team while studying agribusiness at MPCC's campus in McCook.
Between his father's influence and the instruction of MPCC Rodeo Team timed event coach Garrett Nokes, who placed fourth in the world standings at the Wrangler Nationals Finals Rodeo, Wynn has had some tremendous mentors helping him get to where he is today.
"They've taught me a lot," Wynn said. "Now, I just have to put it into practice."
More information about The American can be found at americanrodeo.com. Live coverage is available at watchrfdtv.com.