HEBER CITY -- The culmination of the 2011-12 high school rodeo season -- the Utah High School Rodeo Association State Finals -- begins its four-day run today at the Wasatch County Event Center.
Fifty Top of Utah cowboys and cowgirls are entered in the 44th annual UHSRA event. The Ogden-based Spikers Rodeo Club, the state's largest high school rodeo team, has qualified 33 of its 53 members -- 10 boys and 23 girls -- with the Bear River Rodeo Club sending three boys and three girls to the state finals.
The Morgan Rodeo Club qualified one boy and two girls, with the Double D Rodeo Club, of Davis County, sending four boys and four girls to the state finals.
The UHSRA State Finals consist of two go-rounds running today through Friday, plus a championship short round on Saturday.
The first round starts today at 10 a.m., continues with tonight's 7 p.m. performance and concludes with a 10 a.m. Thursday performance.
The second round begins with Thursday's 7 p.m. performance, continues at 10 a.m. Friday and wraps up with that night's 7 p.m. competition.
The top 10 cowboys and cowgirls in the aggregate, with season points also factored in, in the 10 events -- bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, team roping, and girls breakaway roping, goat tying, pole bending and barrel racing -- after two rounds advance to Saturday's 6 p.m. championship short round.
The first two rounds of boys and girls cutting will be Thursday and Friday at 2 p.m. Cutting finals for the top 10 cowboys and cowgirls are Saturday at 1 p.m.
The top four in each of the 12 events after Saturday's short round, with additional season points also figured in, earn berths at the National High School Finals Rodeo.
The 64th annual NHSFR will be July 15-21 at the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs, Wyo., the first year of a four-year contract.
"After reviewing options at nine different locations, the National High School Rodeo Association has made a decision to remain in the state of Wyoming because of the great working relationship in partnership with Sweetwater Events Complex," said Michael Dixon, NHSRA executive director and CEO in a May 27, 2011, press release.
"Sweetwater Events Complex executive director, Larry Lloyd, and his entire staff, city and county officials, and the citizens of Rock Springs have worked very hard in showing us that they were the best choice for our finals," he said. "We are very optimistic that our 2012 and 2013 National High School Finals Rodeos will be as good as they have ever been.
"I would like to thank our staff in Denver, the NHSRA sites committee and our executive board for all of the work that went into this process," Dixon said.
Wyoming will be the home of the National High School Finals Rodeo through the 2015 season.
The Utah National Team finished 1,510 points behind defending champion Texas at last year's NHSFR in Gillette, Wyo., but Utah has swept seven national team titles since 1996.
At 30 rodeos during the 2011-12 school year, cowboys and cowgirls accumulated points in their attempt to qualify -- they had to finish in the top 10 of their respective event at a qualifying rodeo -- for the Utah High School Rodeo Association State Finals.
Contestants are able to carry a maximum of 70 points -- 10 points for a first-place finish through one point for a 10th-place finish -- from their seven best rodeos of the season into the state finals.
Also, 80 points are still possible at the state finals -- 10 for winning either the first, second or short round plus the aggregate, and 40 points for being the state finals winner.
The two stock contractors for the state finals are Circle J Rodeo Co. and Broken Heart Rodeo Co.
Competition was held Tuesday among 10 contestants for the title of Miss Utah High School Rodeo queen and the opportunity to represent the state at next month's National High School Finals Rodeo.
Baxtor Roche, of Bear River, is the defending Utah High School Rodeo Association steer wrestling champion and last year's state finals winner (17.79 seconds on three runs).
Sage Thacker, of Double D and a Bountiful High School graduate, leads the girls all-around by one-half point over South Summit's Rylee Dick, 396-3951aN2.
* Top of Utah contestants who are ranked in the top 10 of their respective events heading into the state finals:
Girls breakaway roping -- 4. Taylor King (Double D), 61 points; 5. Jessica Brinkerhoff (Spikers), 58; 7. (tie) Hailey Lindsey (Spikers), 53.
Bareback riding -- 9. Bailey Soto (Bear River), 8.
Tie-down roping -- None.
Girls barrel racing -- 4. (tie) Timmi Ward (Bear River), 63.
Girls goat tying -- 1. (tie) Meggen Hodson (Spikers), 68; 7. Sage Thacker (Double D), 52; 8. (tie) Codilynn Meibos (Spikers), 45.
Saddle bronc riding -- None.
Steer wrestling -- 10. (tie) Baxtor Roche (Bear River), 53.
Team roping -- None.
Girls pole bending -- 5. Cheyenne Wilde (Spikers), 58.
Bull riding -- 10. BJ Gee (Spikers), 261aN2.
Boys cutting -- 1. (tie) Ladd King (Double D), 70; 6. Brayden Wilko (Double D), 611aN2; 7. Nate Mitchell (Double D), 60.
Girls cutting -- 1. Taylor King (Double D), 681aN2; 4. Sage Thacker (Double D), 67; 8. Bobbi Jo Baker (Bear River), 511aN2.