Desert Hills senior hopes to add state roping title to his national rodeo title

Published: Wednesday, June 4 2014 9:50 p.m. MDT

Contestants talk during the Utah High School Rodeo final on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 in Heber City.

Hugh Carey, Deseret News

HEBER — Dax Barnson has already won a national rodeo title in team roping. That happened last year when he and his partner beat all comers, from most Western states as well as Canada and Australia, in the national event in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

But Barnson, who just graduated from Desert Hills High in St. George, is still looking for his first state title in team roping.

“I came close last year and lost by two points,’’ he said. “I’ve never won a state title in high school.’’

So when the team roping competition in the Utah high school rodeo finals is held Thursday at the Wasatch County Fairgrounds, Barnson will have one last chance to add a state title to his national title.

He and his partner, Austin Carter, a former Cedar City resident now living in Las Vegas, came into the Utah high school rodeo finals tied for first in the yearlong completion. If they finish in the top four, which looks almost certain, they will qualify for the national event, which will be in Rock Springs again. But more than just qualifying, Barnson wants to win a state title this time.

So what must he and Carter do to come out with a victory Thursday?

“Just knock ‘em all down and see how it comes out,’’ Barnson said, meaning they need to rope all three animals and do it in the shortest amount of time.

In the calf roping competition Wednesday morning, Barnson did have the best time of all the competitors with a posting of 9.9 seconds. Those are the only two events Barnson is competing in this week

“My mom won’t let me do anything else,’’ he said with a laugh.

One of the top girls in this week’s rodeo is South Summit’s Rylee Dick, who is going for her third straight all-around cowgirl title.

However, she got off to a rough start Wednesday in the breakaway roping competition, which she considers her best event.

“I’d like to think it’s my best event, but I got no points today,’’ she said.

And why not?

“I got bucked off,’’ she said sheepishly.

Dick still has three events left and having come into the state meet in first place in the all-around, she has a good chance of repeating her accomplishment.

“I hope to turn things around and start doing better in my events,’’ she said. “I need to get some points so I can get the all-around again.’’

She competed in the goat tying event Wednesday night and has team roping coming up Thursday along with cutting, an event where contestants have 2 1/2 minutes to go in and cut three cows off from the herd and be judged on how well they do.

Dick has a full-ride scholarship to Odessa College in Texas, where she’ll continue her rodeo career. By the end of the week, she hopes to add another all-around title to her collection.

The rodeo competition will continue through Saturday at the Wasatch County Event Center. The top four in each event will qualify for the National High School Rodeo Finals next month in Wyoming.

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