Wednesday , December 06, 2017 - 5:00 AM
Former West Haven resident and Fremont High graduate, Olin Hannum, will enter the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Dec. 7 in second place in the steer wrestling event. The 39-year-old said he will do his best to bring home a gold buckle, either becoming the year-end champion or the average winner for the national finals. Pictured left of Hannum in this photo is his hazer, Jake Hannum.
“(The 10-day rodeo) pays $26,000 a night. It’s very possible that I could win a gold buckle,” he said, noting the prize given for world championship status.
“Honestly, if I just go out and bulldog my best, if I’m supposed to win it, I will,” Hannum said. “I just want to give it my best effort. ... That’s all a person can do is have a chance.”
• RELATED: Hannum finds it good to have a spare
With $110,951 won this year so far, Hannum, 39, is $52,201 behind first-place Ty Erickson, 27, of Helena, Montana.
“Ty Erickson has bulldogged very well all year. If he bulldogs like that at the finals, he will be tough to beat,” Hannum said of his chances to pass his competition.
Olin Hannum’s brother and helper in the competition arena, Jake Hannum, said if anybody can keep differences of 12 years in age and $52,201 in earnings in perspective, it’s Olin.
“He’s definitely mentally tough,” Jake said of Olin, pointing to high school and college football teaching him mental stamina. “He’s just going to be throwing it down each night.”
Jake said Olin is at the top of his game for horses, horsemanship, timing and consistency — areas that could make up big differences at the finals.
With three children, Olin has made travel sacrifices in his regular season rodeo schedule to be a dad, Jake said, adding that those pressures won’t stand in his way at the finals.
“He’s just kind of beating to his own drum,” Jake said. “He’s going about it the way he wants to go about it instead of worrying about what other people are doing.”
Story continues below photo.
Jake said Olin is performing much better than he was in 2011 when he qualified for the finals his first time and finished 10th in the season.
“He’s got a good opportunity this year,” Jake said.
Olin feels up to the challenge. “I am older, but it has helped me in my preparation,” he said.
Olin also pointed to his immediate family members for much of his success.
His late father, Jack Hannum — who posthumously was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2015 after he died of cancer in 2014 — set the example and kept his family going in the right direction, Olin said.
“The biggest sponsors a person has in his life are his parents,” Olin said. “Your dad helps you every day. He would give everything up for me. ... He made me put a high standard on myself.”
Besides teaching him how to train and find good horses, Olin said his father tirelessly practiced with him and his brother at home every day as they grew up.
“It wasn’t like some great steer wrestlers came over,” Olin said. “It was just us.”
Olin learned much from his front-row seat as his dad competed into his 50s and became an administrator for the PRCA.
“He held almost every position in the office,” Olin said of his father. “He taught me about the ins and outs of the association, how things were run. He was over the judging program.”
Locking down the rules of steer wrestling made a difference for Olin in the competition arena. “I would handle those situations almost second nature,” he said. “I feel pretty lucky.”
Luck also is a word he used to describe the difference horses have brought this year.
As the season began, Darrell Petry, the steer wrestling director for the PRCA, loaned Olin Hannum his horse, H.D.
That horse gave Hannum a good start with winning checks as the season began, he said.
Then, Hannun started with a horse named Maverick who finished up the year with top speed and performance.
“He gives me the same opportunity every night,” Hannum said. “I feel like that’s what has made the difference. He rarely falters. ... Not many opportunities have been taken away from me.”