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High school rodeo: Frost has the name and the game to contend for all-around title

HEBER CITY — In rodeo circles, the name and legacy of Lane Frost are legendary.

Frost, as any self-respecting cowboy could tell you, was a world champion bull rider who was tragically killed during the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in 1989. Frost was just 25 years old when he died from injuries suffered in a freakish accident following a 91-point bull ride. Hollywood made a wonderful film — “8 Seconds” — starring Luke Perry to honor Frost’s memory.

Nowadays, when it comes to the Utah high school rodeo scene, some of Frost’s relatives have been making pretty big names for themselves, too.

Joe Frost — whose father, Shane, was Lane Frost’s cousin and a former pro rodeo cowboy himself — was the state’s two-time all-around high school champion cowboy, won a national prep championship in bull riding, and has gone on to star collegiately at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. He is competing this week in the College National Finals Rodeo at Casper, Wyo., where his mom, Lisa, is there to cheer him on while his dad stays back in Utah to watch Joe's little brother compete in his last state finals.

Joe’s little brother, Josh Frost, is doing his darnedest to bring home some hardware of his own from the Utah High School Rodeo finals being held here each day through Saturday this week.

Josh, a member of the Uintah Basin Rodeo Club, posted the top steer wrestling time of 5.0 seconds flat in Wednesday morning’s opening performance at the Wasatch County Rodeo Grounds. He also competes in the bull riding, calf roping and team roping events and has his sights set on hopefully winning that all-around cowboy prize as well.

“I’m a little bit behind, but I’ve got a pretty good chance,” Josh Frost, who turned 18 years old on Tuesday, said of his all-around title hopes. “I’m winning the calf roping and bull riding right now for the state overall and I was sixth in the steer wrestling coming into this. But if I can win the first round it should move me up there pretty close to have a chance at winning that.

“They take the top four kids to nationals, so that’s the main goal right now.”

Josh is a recent graduate of Union High School, where he also participated in wrestling.

“You don’t do much rodeoing out in Roosevelt in the winter,” he deadpanned, “‘cause you’ve got 18 feet of snow on the ground.”

At 5 foot 9 and around 145 pounds, Josh certainly isn’t the biggest cowboy riding high in the saddle, either, so posting the top time in steer wrestling on Wednesday morning was a plus.

“That’s why I was pretty excited this morning when I beat all the big boys,” he said. “I’m definitely one of the smallest ones.”

His clocking of 5.0 seconds was among his best steer wrestling times ever.

“It’s right up there,” Frost said. “I’ve been at 4.8 and 4.5 a few times, but definitely 5 is right up there. It was a good run. Hopefully, it’ll be good enough to hold up and I can win it.”

He said his two favorite events are probably tie-down roping and bull riding.

“They’re pretty close,” Frost said. “I’d have a hard time picking which one to do out of those two. They’re both a lot of fun.”

And he admits that climbing atop a huge, snarling and snorting bull might not be the smartest thing in the world to do — but that the thrill is well worth it.

“I don’t know what’s the matter with me half the time, but it sure is fun,” Frost said. “You have to like it, but there ain’t much other things in life that compare to it. It’s a little bit (spooky), but it’s a rush, I’ll tell ya that.

“You just go for it. If you’re scared, it usually doesn’t turn out too well. I’ve definitely got dusted a few times, but if your head ain’t what hits the ground first, you’re probably not trying hard enough.”

Frost will join big brother Joe this fall at Oklahoma Panhandle State, where Josh received a full-ride rodeo scholarship. But first there’s the International Finals Youth Rodeo at Shawnee, Okla., in addition to the National High School Finals Rodeo in July at Rock Springs, Wyo.

Josh said carrying a well-known rodeo name like Frost can have its advantages — as well as its disadvantages.

“I don’t think it would matter what my last name was,” he said. “It’s just what I love doing and I’m still gonna work hard at it. Sometimes I guess people maybe expect more having that last name, so sometimes maybe it’s a bad thing but you just do what you can.

“It puts a little more pressure on you because Frost is a great bull-riding name so everyone expects you to be a great bull rider. And sometimes you get bucked off — everyone does — because you can’t ride ’em all.”

He said the sibling rivalry between he and Joe has helped them both become better rodeo athletes.

“I think it helps me, especially with my brother,” said Josh, who started his rodeo career at the ripe old age of 3. “I’ve just got to beat him, got to show up older brother, and I usually do most of the time. We push each other and when he’s home, practice is better with both of us, so that’s why I’m excited to go with him. ... He helps me out a lot. He’s older and bigger than I am.

“I had to wrestle him this year and I beat him. He got a little cocky and I got a little lucky and got him.

“When we were little kids, my brother was too scared to get on a calf so I said ‘I’ll do it, Dad,’ so I got on the calf and then Joe decided he’d better get on him,” Josh recalled. "That’s how I got started. Just stuff like that helps us both. We are pushing each other all the time.”

The state certainly hasn’t heard the last from the Frost family, either. After all, there’s 12-year-old brother Jake and little sister Jacelyn coming up through the ranks over the next few years.

And, like Josh and Joe, they’ll have that memorable, lasting family legacy to live up to as well.