Josh Peek at the Lazy E

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Josh Peek is a veteran of three straight Wrangler National Finals Rodeos in the tie-down roping and two NFRs in the steer wrestling event. In 2007 and 2009, he finished second only to reigning Cowboy King and six-time Wrangler Timed Event Championship of the World Titlist Trevor Brazile in the world all-around standings, and last December was crowned the all-around champ at NFR ’09. After entering the last event of the final round in the top spot and stumbling at the finish line with a no-time in the steer roping at the 2009 Timed Event, Peek came through in the clutch this time around to light up the Lazy E Arena and take the coveted title and $58,000, with 315.2 seconds on 25 runs (five each in heading, heeling, steer wrestling, steer roping and tie-down roping). Peek, 30, lives in Pueblo, Colo., with his wife, Kori, and twins, Keagan and Emry, who’ll be a year old next month.

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I’d only tripped about five steers the first year I went to the Timed Event, in 2008. When I got there last year, I’d still only made about 30 steer roping runs, so I was very, very green. I honestly just wasn’t a tripper. Since then, I’ve been working with Pecos Shannon, who lives in Lordsburg, N.M. He’s helped me a lot, and I entered the steer roping at about eight rodeos last year. I’ve been working my way into it, and I love it now. I even have my own horse.

Pecos and I made the calf horse I won San Antonio on in 2007 into a tripping horse. His name’s Nitro, he’s 9, and in the last three years I’ve done everything but bulldog on him at the Timed Event. In 2008, I rode him in the heading, heeling and tie-down roping, and in 2009, I headed and hazed on him there. This year, I tripped on him.

In 2009, I needed to be 15 on that last tripping steer to beat Trevor. I roped him around the neck, then couldn’t get him lined back out to get him roped. When I rode up on him, I was too aggressive. Then, when I roped him around the neck, I panicked and missed him again. I was disappointed and frustrated, because I had a chance to win it and didn’t. But I won fourth and learned a lot from it.

It happens. You’re not going to win everything. After that, I devoted myself to preparing to win it this year. After losing, I knew my weakness was the tripping, so I devoted myself to that. I needed a good horse, and couldn’t really afford to go buy a really good one. So I made the decision to have Pecos turn Nitro into a tripping horse.

The difference between this year— when I was in the same situation when I rode in to rope that last steer—and last year is I wasn’t worried about having to be fast or slow. I had the confidence that I could do it, and I was a lot more prepared. It used to be the steer roping, but this year heading was probably my weakest event.

My Timed Event helpers were awesome. Zane Bruce headed for me in the heeling, and heeled for me when I was heading. He helped me last year, too, and has been helping me with my heeling in general. It was pretty cool to have him walk out in the middle of the arena and shake my hand as the champion this year, because he was the only guy who walked out there and shook my hand last year after I lost. I thought that was pretty neat. Tommy Cook hazed for me this year, and he did a great job, too.

Besides Nitro in the steer roping, I rode an 8-year-old black horse they call Piper in the tie-down roping that belongs to John Entz, who’s a friend of mine from Montana. I bulldogged on Gus, the 11-year-old red roan I rode at the NFR last year. I bought him about a month before the Timed Event this year during San Angelo. I headed on a 7-year-old sorrel horse we call Lucky, who’s only been to a few rodeos, and heeled on a sorrel horse Tish Luke owns. His name is Tucker, and he’s 8.

Because I’ve been close to winning the world all-around championship a couple times, everyone sees it as a battle between Trevor and I. I don’t see it like that at all. Trevor’s awesome, and I’ve looked up to him for years. He’s in a position I’m headed to, and to be put in the same class as some of these guys is awesome in itself. Trevor’s taken years to develop his ability, athleticism and horses. I’m getting close to being in that position, because I’ve worked very hard to become the best in every event that I can be. I own two really good calf horses and bulldogging horses and a hazing horse now. I own one good tripping horse, and am working on a second one. The horses are a huge part of what we do, and I’m excited about mine.

Trevor’s developed a mental toughness that you have to have in the arena. I’ve been paying my dues and working my way up the stepping stones to become an athlete who can overcome adversity, and handle both success and failure. I’m really close to getting all of it together. I enjoy the practice pen more than an actual rodeo, if that’s possible. Working hard has never been an issue for me.

It’s hard not to bet on Trevor at the Timed Event. He’s great in all four roping events. He’s proven that by making the National Finals in every single one of them. When you’re that great in four events, and very tough in the fifth one, it makes him very hard to beat. Most guys are pretty weak in at least one event, but not Trevor. (By the way, Brazile finished fourth this year behind Josh, the Wyoming K.C. Jones and JoJo LeMond. Oh, and JoJo, who already owned the Timed Event heeling record, this year set the new 4.5-second heading mark in the fifth round with Randon Adams on the back side. JoJo set the 4.9-second heeling record behind Matt Sherwood last year.)

I went to this year’s Timed Event with the goal of not making any mistakes,