By Ted Harbin/for the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo committee
DODGE CITY, Kan. – No matter how good an athlete is, the foundation for every move is in the fundamentals.
It’s working well for Rusty Wright, a 19-year-old saddle bronc rider and son of two-time world champion Cody Wright. On July 29, the Utah cowboy rode Harry Vold Rodeo’s Jerry’s Delight for 81 points to take the early lead at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.
“I couldn’t ask for better this year,” said Rusty Wright, the No. 3-ranked bronc rider in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings. “I’ve been drawing good and making good rides, and the judges are liking it. It’s working out. I just plan to keep riding the best I can; nothing fancy, just stick to the basics.”
That’s proven to be quite successful for the Wright clan of Milford, Utah. Not only is Cody Wright a two-time titlist, but two of his brothers (Rusty’s uncles) are also world champs: Jesse Wright won the gold buckle in 2012, and Spencer Wright added the family’s fourth crown last December.
“My dad’s been preaching the basics to us, not just in bronc riding but in any sport we were doing through elementary school or high school; just stick to the basics,” said Rusty Wright, who is one point better than Cody Wright and Isaac Diaz here. “It carries over to bronc riding. He’s been telling us that so long that it’s easy to remember: Stay back, lift on your rein and set your feet. That’s pretty much all you need to do.”
The young gun has done it better than most this season. He has pocketed $71,000, and two months remain in ProRodeo’s regular season. He’s well on his way to his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, where the chances are good he’ll be joined by familiar faces.
Only the top 15 cowboys in the world standings earn a shot at the biggest rodeo in the game (worth $10 million this year), and there are plenty of Wrights within range of returning to Las Vegas in December: Spencer is sixth, Jake is 10th, Jesse is 17th and Cody is 25th. Rusty travels the rodeo trail with Cody, Spencer and Brady Nicholes.
“A big part of rodeoing is being around good bronc riders and winners, like my dad and Spencer,” Rusty Wright said. “I think I’m traveling with a couple of winners. It helps me out a lot, not only in bronc riding but with my attitude in life. “It’s a huge impact, and it’s made things a lot easier for me.” He seems to be making it pretty easy for himself.
He’ll turn 20 on Nov. 10, so a trip to the Nevada in December to chase the world champion’s gold buckle might be the perfect birthday gift.