ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. -- The cows are getting more difficult by the day in the cutting pen, where several of the event's top contenders have found themselves on the wrong side of a lost cow in recent days.
With that in mind, Oklahoma's Braden Beaty was definitely concerned as he rode in for his second cut of the week on Friday morning at the 65th annual National High School Finals Rodeo at the Sweetwater Events Complex.
Following Friday morning's performance, Utah sits fifth in the team standings, behind Texas, Idaho, Oklahoma, and California.
"We were all kind of in survival mode out there," Braden said after turning in a 144-point run that moved him into a tie for third in the round and second place in the average in boys cutting. He sits just a half point behind California's Denton Vaughn in the average with two performances remaining before the short round at 2 p.m. today in the Indoor Arena.
"I was just trying to cut as smart as I can. The cows are definitely getting tougher every day out there," he said.
Riding Highbrow Supercat, a 5-year-old horse he borrowed from family friends, Braden is enjoying the most success he's ever had in his third trip to the NHSFR.
As for what he might have learned from his previous trips, Braden offered this advice, "You just have to be smart out there. The cows are tough and getting tougher every day."
Utah's boys team is challenging Texas for the top spot. Kaysville's Ladd King is eighth in the average in boys cutting, while his horse -- Holy Moly Nic -- is in the running for horse of the year.
Milford's Rusty Wright won the saddle bronc riding, and sits 1-2 with Beaver's CoBurn Bradshaw in the average.
The southern Utah duo of Brody Adams and Dax Barnson are second in team roping, while Randlett's Josh Frost is second in tiedown roping.
On the girls side, Ogden's Hailey Lindesey was fifth in breakaway roping, and is 12th in the average.
There are three performances left in the NHSFR.