HEBER CITY — Spencer Wright did his part to uphold the Wright family reputation of being the best saddle bronc riding clan in the state Wednesday morning during the opening round of the Utah High School Rodeo State Finals.
"It all started with my dad," said the Milford High senior after he earned the highest score of the morning competition with a 70-point ride. "And now all my brothers ride. We all love it. What's not to love?"
Spencer is the second-to-youngest son of William and Evelyn Wright to compete on the high school rodeo circuit. Stuart Wright, 13, is the youngest of seven boys, and he looked on as his Spencer made the whistle and earned the morning's top score.
Spencer Wright, like his older brothers, also rides bulls — something he won't do in college or on the pro circuit.
"I don't know, we've all done it," he said with a shrug. "Bronc riding is funner. It's more challenging. It takes more athletic ability."
Wright has only been competing as a professional for about a month, but he took first in Bakersfield recently.
"I like the pro shows a lot," he said. "There is no waiting around. The horses are real good."
But before he gets serious about competing as a pro, he hopes to earn one more trip to the National High School Finals Rodeo next month. He won the National Title in saddle bronc riding as a sophomore and represented the state last year.
Wright is currently tied for first place in the saddle bronc state standings with his traveling partner, Brady Nicholes. The two are not only hitting the PRCA circuit together, they plan to attend Oklahoma Panhandle State University on rodeo scholarships this fall.
He said he's looking forward to the energy of the state finals, which began Wednesday morning at the Wasatch County Fairgrounds and will end with a championship round Saturday at 5 p.m.
"They're more like practice rodeos for me and Brady," said Wright of the rodeos that allow high school athletes to qualify for the state finals. "This is a good time."
Wright said he prefers saddle broncs to bulls, despite the fact that he's suffered his worst injuries riding bucking horses.
"I've been stepped on by bulls but not hurt," he said. "I broke my collarbone as a freshman, and my sophomore year I got kicked in the head. I was out for a little while with that. It was supposed to be six months to a year, but I healed up in about two months."
He wore a helmet for a year, but as soon as doctors gave him the OK, he traded it in for a cowboy hat.
"It wasn't my style," he said with a grin. "It makes your head heavier and tucking your chin is a big thing in bronc riding. The helmet kind of gets in the way of that."
IN OTHER EVENTS WEDNESDAY MORNING:
Lex Ju won the bareback riding with a score of 68 points; Shay Bankhead won the barrel racing with a time of 16.70 seconds; Kelsie Keller won the break away roping with a time of 3.67; Kurtis Turner won the bull riding with a score of 71 points; Whittney Dansie won goat tying with a time of 8.02; Allie LaSalle won pole bending with a time of 20.424 seconds; Garrison Cannon won the steer wrestling with a time of 6.63 seconds; in team roping, Lane Nielsen and Zachary Harrell earned the fastest time with 7.51 seconds; and McKay Magoon earned the morning's fastest time in tie down roping with 12.72 seconds.