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High school rodeo: Chad Netto shattering myths about cowboys

Published: Wednesday, June 8 2011 11:15 p.m. MDT

Milford High's Chad Netto prepares to compete in the bull riding competition at state rodeo finals in Heber City on Wednesday.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

HEBER CITY — If you took a look at Chad Netto's long list of high school accomplishments, you'd wonder how in the world a young man could possibly find the time to get so much done.

After all, Netto was not only an All-State football player for Milford High last fall, but the recent graduate also played basketball for four years, baseball for two years and even wrestled one year during his prep athletic career.

But this is no dumb jock. No, sir, think again.

Netto was a Sterling Scholar in Business and Marketing, a member of the National Honor Society, an Academic All-State and Academic All-Region selection in both football and basketball, and was the valedictorian for his graduating class of 27 at the small 1A school in southwest Utah.

Oh, and in his spare time, he likes to rodeo, too. His specialty is riding bulls — which certainly might make one question Netto's intelligence if he hadn't piled up all those academic honors along the way.

"I don't like sittin' around; I like to stay busy," Netto said in an obvious understatement as he prepared for this week's Utah High School Rodeo Association State Finals which got under way Wednesday at the new Wasatch County rodeo grounds.

"I like rodeo the best. All those other things are fun, but they're not like riding a bull. It's by far my favorite thing to do. I just like the whole rodeo atmosphere."

As to his affection for rodeo, well, maybe it's in the genes — or in the case of most cowboys, in the jeans.

Netto's late grandfather, Darwin Slack, was a rodeo rider way back when and his specialty was bareback riding. Chad's older brother, Jake, also did bareback riding and rode bulls, too.

This marks Netto's third year of competing in the State Finals rodeo. After finishing in the top 12 in bull riding last year as a junior, he comes into this year's competition ranked fourth in the state in that event.

And if he can maintain that standing or possibly move up, he'll qualify for the National High School Finals Rodeo next month in Gillette, Wyo.

Netto rode his first bull of this year's state finals on Wednesday, but didn't make the whistle, scoring a 0.

Along the way, this sharp young man has helped shatter the myth that cowboys in general, and bull riders in particular, must not be very bright.

"I don't want that reputation going around that we're all a bunch of dumb guys," he said. "Even some of the kids I talked to at rodeos this year, they were really surprised that I was the valedictorian at our school.

"That's one reason why I rodeo and play sports — to show people that we're not dumb.

"I think it all just goes back to that old saying that if you're gonna do something, you'd might as well do it well. It's the same for school. I like to work hard in school, too" — which his cumulative 3.93 grade-point average will certainly attest to.

Netto, who played high school football for four years, had enough between his ears to make the difficult switch from running back to quarterback for his senior season.

In the 2010 campaign, the 5-foot-9, 155-pound athlete accounted for more than 2,300 combined yards rushing and passing and earned Deseret News first team All-State and Academic All-State honors.

"We're a small school and don't have much depth," he said. "I played running back my sophomore and junior years, but then our quarterback graduated last year and I kinda got put in there at quarterback.

"At the first of the year, I didn't really know what I was doing. I was pretty much just a running back that took the snaps from center, and I had more yards rushing than our running backs did. But our team didn't do too well. Some of our linemen were only 10 pounds heavier than me."

Netto plans to attend college and continue to compete in rodeo, either at Oklahoma Panhandle State, which has offered him a partial rodeo scholarship, or at Utah Valley University, which would be much closer to home.

And regardless of where life might take him next, a couple of things seem certain — Chad Netto will most certainly stay busy and, whatever he chooses to do, he'll most likely do it very well.

email: rhollis@desnews.com

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