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Friendly gesture leads to big win at Days of '47 Rodeo

SALT LAKE CITY — Isaac Diaz might want to reconsider being such a nice guy.

The saddle bronc rider would have earned a little more money if he hadn't convinced his friend, Steve Dent, to reconsider his decision to ride in Spanish Fork instead of the Days of '47 Rodeo Monday night.

"I just about turned out up here," said Dent, who now leads the saddle bronc riding in the Days of '47 Rodeo with 89 points after an impressive ride on Holy Holly in front of a crowd that included LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. "I was up in Spanish Fork tonight in the bareback, and I couldn't do both. But Isaac called me and told me I needed to come get on him."

The ride came just two days after Dent won a rodeo in Idaho in bareback riding. He's one of the few riders who competes in both bareback and saddle bronc riding, and while he's qualified for the national finals five times, his dream is to qualify for both in the same season.

"About the only similarity is they're both on a horse," he said without cracking a smile. "I'm a little better in bareback riding, not sure why." He's close to breaking into the top 15 in bareback riding, but he has "a little more work to do" to break into that top 15 in saddle broncs.

Monday's 89-point ride is one of his best this season, but he has a chance to earn more money in bareback Tuesday as he will compete at the Days of '47 Rodeo again in bareback riding.

Spencer Wright, one of the famous bronc riding Wright brothers from Milford, was second with an 86-point ride, while Diaz was third with 84 points. Wright is having a good season and is currently sitting about 20th in the standings. Riders need to be top 15 to qualify for the NFR.

Two of Spencer's brothers already own world titles — Cody Wright (two championships) and Jesse (last year's champion). Cody, Jesse, Alex and Jake Wright are scheduled to compete in Tuesday's performance of the Days of '47. There are seven Wright brothers, with six of them competing in saddle bronc riding. They will add a brother-in-law to the fold next month, Beaver's CoBurn Bradshaw, who became one of the state's best riders after practicing with Cody's oldest son, Rusty, who just won his second national high school championship last week.

Bradshaw, who finished third in the National High School Finals in his last season as a prep athlete, made the whistle but only earned 63 points, which wasn't enough to earn a paycheck.

Still, he has had a successful season, and he said he's looking forward to his wedding with Rebecca Wright on Aug. 6, which will make him his Rusty's uncle and a brother-in-law to two world champs. He smiles about the famous in-laws and acknowledges how much Cody Wright helped him as a high school rider. He's finding success as a pro, even if he's still trying to find a steady traveling companion.

"It's awesome," he said of turning pro before he'd even graduated high school. "It's the same entry fee, but you're getting paid. It's 10 times better horses, too. I'm paying my way and then some."

He's currently fourth in the Wilderness Circuit and his goal is to qualify for the Wilderness Circuit Finals. He said he asked Bill and Evelyn for their permission to marry Rebecca, also 18, and admitted it was harder to convince Mom than it was Dad.

"She didn't want to give up her baby girl," he said smiling. Finding a date that didn't conflict with rodeos was maybe a little harder than getting parental permission. They moved the date so the brothers could all attend the wedding.

Monday's bull riding competition was full of Utah riders, including former world champion Steve Woolsey of Payson. He didn't make the whistle, but four other Utah cowboys did, including Morgan's Hutch Haslam, who missed a couple of months after a kick to the head in the Moab rodeo. Haslam now sits in second place overall after earning the night's highest score of 86 points.

"It feels really good," he said smiling. "I've been riding OK, but this was a pretty good night." The 27-year-old said he isn't sure how severe his head injury was as he "just got stitched up and then took it easy for a while." He sort of skirted questions about whether or not a doctor was involved in deciding how much recovery time he might need.

"I'm pretty excited," he said of Monday's ride. "I have a long road ahead, but I'm just having fun riding."

Another world champ, Wesley Silcox, leads the bull riding overall with a score of 89 points. Joe Frost of Randlett, Utah, was second with 77 points, while Tooele's Shawn Proctor was thrid with 73 points.

In bareback riding, Will Lowe, an 11-time qualifier for the national finals, earned the night's top score with an 86-point ride. Colt Kitaif and Morgan Wilde tied for second with 79 points each.

In tie-down roping J.C. Malone of Roy won with a time of 8.1 seconds, while Ryle Smith of California was second with a time of 8.2 seconds. Neola's Nancy Hunter was the fastest barrel racer of the night with a time of 13.69 seconds. Arizona's Sarah Kieckhefer was second with a time of 13.71, and Marvel Murphy was third with a time of 13.82 seconds.

In steer wrestling, Tyler Pearson was first with a time of 3.8 seconds; Stockton Graves was second with a time of 3.9 seconds; and Riley Duvall was third with a time of 4.6 seconds.

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