By: Julia Dondero
Steer Wrestling is all about finding the courage to take the big jump, and that is precisely what Trisyn Kalawaia has done– jumping into new opportunities and finding success along the way. As the reigning Rodeo Corpus Christi Steer Wrestling Champion, Kalawaia’s victorious momentum has rolled into a current leaderboard position of first place on the Rodeo Carolinas leaderboard.
Steer Wrestling isn’t the only jump the 21-year-old cowboy has made in his life. Growing up on the Big Island of Hawaii (Hilo, Hawaii), Kalawaia jumped about 3,500 miles to Alva, Oklahoma- where he now calls home at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Growing up on the beach, Kalawaia spent most of his time surfing and at his Uncle’s ranch, learning the ropes of the Rodeo world.
“The rodeos in Hawaii all feel like a close-knit family. It’s a small group of us all rodeoing together on the island,” reflected Kalawaia, who chose to rodeo under eight-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier and 2x WCRA Champion Stockton Graves after visiting the continental US for the National High School Rodeo Finals.
Throughout his youth rodeo career, Kalawaia was primarily focused on the timed event side, explaining he initially didn’t like competing in Steer Wrestling.
“I originally hated Steer Wrestling. I only wanted to rope. It wasn’t until Cody Cabral (who qualified for the NFR in 2016) taught me the technique. I really enjoy Steer Wrestling now; there is no better feeling than jumping on one,” explained Kalawaia.
While there may be no better feeling than jumping on a steer, holding the Rodeo Corpus Christi surfboard overhead in front of an electric crowd was great. Kalawaia, who nominated professional and collegiate rodeos, was victorious in Corpus Christi when it was all said and done. During this nomination period, Kalawaia also finds himself atop a competitive Steer Wrestling leaderboard, with his sights set on another win at Rodeo Carolinas.
“With so many opportunities to win large payouts, I have been nominating everything. It is a great opportunity to win big, and I am excited for Rodeo Carolinas. I just have to take it steer by steer,” explained Kalawaia, who is now eyeing his second consecutive WCRA major win.
This past Summer, the college senior and farrier ventured on his first PRCA summer run, with many NFR qualifiers alongside him. Learning the ropes of the professional rodeo world, Kalawaia explained that the comradery and support from fellow Steer Wrestlers have significantly impacted his career thus far.
Traveling down the PRCA road has also opened Kalawaia’s eyes to the opportunities allotted through the WCRA and nominating large rodeos.
“I’m not sure why I haven’t done it [nominating for WCRA Major events] sooner. I started to nominate college rodeos, and now I nominate everything. Rodeo Corpus Christi opened my eyes to the great opportunities created by the WCRA. It is a great opportunity to qualify for different events and win large amounts.”
Looking towards Rodeo Carolinas at the prestigious Tryon International Equestrian Center, Kalawaia will look to capture his second consecutive win atop his 14-year-old mare “Rumor.” Making big jumps, one steer at a time, the Hawaiian cowboy looks to continue to write his name atop WCRA events and leaderboards.