SALT LAKE CITY — Saddle Bronc riding didn't always come naturally for Rusty Wright, but you wouldn't know it by how he performed Saturday night at the Days of '47 rodeo at Energy Solutions Arena. The 19-year-old Milford native thrilled the event's biggest crowd to date, scoring a 90 to win the Saddle Bronc competition by a very comfortable margin.
Cody Taton (Corona, New Mexico) and Rusty Wright's uncle, Spencer Wright, tied for second with 83 points apiece.
"It's a dream come true," Wright said. "To do this here in an event where I grew up watching my dad compete in — it's just an incredible feeling to have right now."
Rusty Wright's dad is two-time world champion Cody Wright, who rode right after his son Saturday night. Cody was bucked off his horse just prior to the eight seconds required to post a score, but that was an afterthought when considering how proud he was of his son's performance.
"I couldn't be happier for him," Cody Wright said. "It's great to go out and make a good ride for yourself, but to watch your kid do it ... I don't know how you couldn't just love it."
Rusty Wright's first ride on a bucking bronco was back when he was 15 years old, according to his father, and the ride didn't go smoothly.
"He didn't take to it right away and learned a bit slower than you'd think seeing him out there tonight," Cody Wright recalled. "It's a hard thing seeing your son up there, knowing how stout those horses are and how anything could happen. You know what he's in for, having done it myself for years. But now, I know how talented he is and I don't get those nerves anymore. He knows what he's doing."
Rusty Wright proved he belonged last year, winning Rookie of the Year honors. This year he's riding better than ever and looks to qualify for the national championship this December in Las Vegas after his winning performance Saturday.
"I'd love to get there and it looks like it could happen now," Rusty said. "Right now I don't know what to think, I'm just so happy with how I rode and hopefully things work out."
Perhaps the night's most thrilling event came with the team roping competition. In the final ride of the night, Luke Brown (Stephenville, Texas) teamed with Kollin VonAhn (Blanchard, Oklahoma) to edge out Jake Cooper (Monument, New Mexico) and Tyler McKnight's (Wells, Texas) seemingly unbeatable time of 3.6 seconds posted the night before with a time of 3.4.
Local standouts included Spanish Fork's Kaycee Feild, who placed third in the bareback riding competition, along with Jessica Jones (Clinton, Utah) and Vickie Carter (Richfield, Utah) who placed first and third respectively in barrel racing.
Team Roping: 1. Luke Brown (Stephenville, TX) and Kollin VonAhn (Blanchard, OK), 3.40; 2. Trevor Brazile (Decatur, TX) and Patrick Smith (Lipan, TX), 4.30; 3. Charly Crawford (Prineville, OR) and Shay Carroll (Prineville, OR), 4.40
Steer Wrestling: 1. Tommy Cook (McAlester, OK), 4.10; 2. Dean Gorsuch (Gering, NE), 4.40; 3. Tanner Brunner (Ramona, KS), 4.50
Bareback riding: 1. Brian Bain (Powell Butte, OR), 82 points; 2. Jessy Davis (Power, MT), 81; 3. Ryan Gray (Cheney, WA), 69; 3. Kaycee Feild (Spanish Fork, UT), 69
Tie Down Roping: 1. Trevor Brazile (Decatur, TX), 6.90; 2. Adam Gray (Seymour, TX), 7.50; 3. Monty Lewis (Hereford, TX), 7.60
Barrel Racing: 1. Jessica Jones (Clinton, UT), 13.74; 2. Layna Kight (Ocala, FL) 13.78; 3. Vickie Carter (Richfield, UT), 13.90
Saddle Bronc riding: 1. Rusty Wright (Milford, UT), 90 points; 2. Cody Taton (Corona, NM), 83; 2. Spencer Wright (Milford, UT), 83
Bull riding: 1. Chandler Bownds (Lubbock, TX), 78 points; 1. Reid Barker (Comfort, TX), 78