HEBER CITY — About halfway through his eight-second ride, Chancey Richards looked like his High School Rodeo Finals debut would end with him face down in the dirt.
As the Bryce Valley freshman slipped down the bucking bull’s side, he realized he had to do more than just hang on if he wanted to make it to the buzzer. So he did what no other teenage cowboy could do in the opening performance of the state finals and pulled himself back up onto the bull’s back and earned the morning’s only score of 72 points.
“It feels a lot longer,” he said of how eight seconds feels during a bull ride. “The first couple of jumps, my mind goes blank. Once I get past those, I get conscious again and start to know what I’m doing.”
Being able to think through the adrenaline and nerves is key to having success in the sport of rodeo.
“This is my first time here,” said the freshman who now leads the first round of competition at the state finals. “My parents are from rodeo families. It was my dad who was into rough stock. He’s a saddle bronc rider, but I got into bull riding because I thought it looked funner.”
Richards’ idea of fun might be a little different than some folks.
Almost as challenging as staying on the bucking bull is ignoring the fact that the bulls were bucking off some pretty talented cowboys Wednesday morning. Richards said he tries not to worry about that as he prepares for his ride, which was the last one of the competition.
“I just try and ride,” he said with a shrug.
He said he loves the challenge of the sport, and said he was able to make the buzzer Wednesday thanks to some last-minute advice offered in the chute.
He said he was told the bull likes to take some big jumps forward, so he was prepared for that when the gate opened.
“It feels great,” he said.
Richards wasn’t the only freshman who had a successful outing Wednesday. Castledale twins Will and Wyatt Magnuson earned the fastest time of the morning performance in team roping, snagging their steer in 7.36 seconds. The boys said they grew up on a ranch, but decided to start pursuing competitive roping after watching the National Finals Rodeo when they were 11 or 12.
“We went to the NFR and decided we wanted to rope,” said Wyatt. “We’ve always wanted to calf rope, and we were just going to Jackpot, but then we decided we wanted to calf rope, too.”
The boys said their dad gives them the best advice, including tips on how to succeed Wednesday. Wyatt said being coached by your dad and teaming up with your brother has more advantages than downsides.
“I think there are advantages because we can go out and rope whenever we want,” Wyatt said.
And when things don’t go well, the boys support each other more than blame one another.
“We really don’t get mad, it’s just frustrating,” Wyatt said. “We don’t really take it out on each other.”
In the other events Wednesday morning, Colton Bringard earned the top score in bareback riding with 65 points; Rylee White earned the fastest time in barrel racing with 16.81 seconds; Emma Hodson had the fastest breakaway time of 3.33 seconds; Kaytlyn Miller earned the fastest time in goat tying with 7.57 seconds; Sayge Madsen had the fastest time in pole bending with 20.266 seconds; Troy Flanigan had the top rifle shoot score with 319 points; Stetson Wright had the top saddle bronc score earning 68 points; Samuel Carson brought his steer down in the quickest time, 5.43 seconds; Bodell Jessen earned the fastest tiedown time, roping his calf in 10.68 seconds; and Jordon Pierce had the top trap shoot score with 50 points.
There are performances daily at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., with the championship round on Saturday starting at 6 p.m.