HEBER CITY -- The top high school rodeo athletes from across the state opened up the first round of action during the Utah High School Finals Rodeo Wednesday.
Mike Butler of Dixie was the top contestant in the bareback riding event as he posted a 68-point ride. He was followed by Russell Bagley of Cedar with 64 points and Bingham's Colby Olsen posted a 63. Seth Garfield of Morgan and Jesse Davis of South Utah County each had a 62.Andy Woolstenhulme of Oakley tossed his steer down in 5.94 seconds to take the lead in the steer wrestling event. Jami Clark of Bear River was quick with a rope as she tossed a loop over a calf in the breakaway roping in a little over three seconds. Bobbi Hughes of Dixie tied her goat in 9.08 seconds and Lehi's Jessica Talbot was tops in pole bending.
The team of Lisa Drake and Ty Bingham of Heber finished second in the team roping with a time of 9.33 just behind a 9.19 turned in by Spencer King and Cody Stark of Ogden's Spikers Rodeo Team.
Stark is only a sophomore but a seasoned veteran at the finals after a trip during his freshman season last year.
"It was an all-right run, but we could have been faster," Stark said. The 16-year-old from South Weber plans to be quicker on Friday when he gets his second shot in the team roping event.
Bingham was a favorite of the local fans in Heber and was pleased to do well in front of the hometown fans.
"We had a great run today and this was just what we needed to put us back in there for a run at winning the saddle," Bingham said.
". . . My partner Lisa Drake always gives me a good shot in the team roping."
Chaney Mowers of Panguitch was best on the Brahma bulls with a score of 71 points and Lacey Hoffmen posted a time of 16.985 in barrel racing.
The top four finishers at the state finals advance to the national event for the chance at the national title. Utah won the National High School Rodeo Championship in 1996. The Utah delegation has finished among the top 10 in each of the past 10 years.
UHSRA president Ken Norris was pleased with the opening day results, expressing optimism for a break in the rainy weather.
"I think our opening day has gone well," Norris said. The kids are competing hard and the stock has performed well."
The Utah finals will continue with performances at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday with the championship at 2 p.m. at the Wasatch County Fairgrounds.