Despite being a two-time national champion in the saddle bronc competition, Rusty Wright came into the UHSRA finals with a little bit of unfinished business. The top rookie in the PRCA had accomplished those two national championships, but qualified for them only as a reserve during the previous Utah state finals.
This year, however, it was a different story. Rusty and his brother, Ryder, ran away from the saddle bronc field, placing first and second respectively.
"I’ve been reserve two years in a row here at state," Rusty said. "Now that I’ve got the state title, it’s pretty sweet going into nationals with some momentum, so we’ll see how it goes."
Now Rusty will be defending his national crown with Ryder by his side.
"It’s awesome," Rusty said. "I mean, I wish some other kids would do good, but I wouldn’t want it any other way actually — me and my little brother, one and two, way ahead of the pack. We’ve both all year for two or three years, have been busting our butts to get to where we are today and it’s awesome."
After Saturday’s finals, big brother could not be any more proud of his younger brother, who won the high school rodeo all-around title with a total score of 434. Dalton Rydalch came in second at 375.50.
"I can’t really explain how proud of him I am because it’s in the rough stock," Rusty said. The last rough stock cowboy to win the all-around was Joe Frost back in 2010.
The accomplishment for Ryder is a feather in the cap, as the sophomore has some big shoes to follow with not only Rusty, but also his dad (Cody) and Uncle Jesse. "It means a lot, Ryder said. "I practice a lot and get pushed by all my family members to get there."
Coming from a family of world champion cowboys, the advice to two brothers get from their dad before each competition is short and sweet. "He tells [us] to have fun and don’t take it too serious. I mean, you want to take it serious, but just have fun and relax. ‘Loose and cool,’ is what he always tells us."
For the third year in a row, a familiar name came out on top in the girls’ all-round. Rylee Dick defended her title once again — even after what she claimed was a rough week of performance, posting a total score of 532.75. "It means a lot because I didn’t think I got it, so it means a lot," Dick said. "There’s a lot of hard work that’s gone into it, so it feels good."
Freshman, Shalee King, gave her a fight to the end finishing with a 515.50, but the University of Texas-bound star ultimately prevailed. "She had a good week, so I was a little nervous," Dick admitted.
For complete results of the 2014 UHSRA rodeo events, go to: www.uhsra.org.
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