POCATELLO — Tyler Smith’s brother talked him into competing in bareback riding.
Smith gave the rodeo event a try in middle school and found his passion. Smith has been riding horses ever since, including Thursday night at the Bannock County Event Center in the Idaho High School State Finals Rodeo.
The recent New Plymouth High School graduate rode twice Thursday, notching 7.50 event points in the morning’s second go-round, putting him in first place with 27.50 points. Smith returned to the arena Thursday night and scored 60 points. Event points and standings were not available for the third go-round.
“After the first two rounds, I really liked where I was sitting,” Smith said. “It was awesome. That is where you want to be.”
Smith, who has competed at state rodeo three consecutive seasons, is in prime position to redeem last season’s second-place state finish in bareback riding.
The cowboy tallied 54.50 points in 2018, eight fewer than state champion Jake Kesl’s 62.50 points. Smith accumulated at least seven points in two go-rounds, but couldn’t keep pace with Kesl, who scored the maximum of 10 points in three of four go-rounds.
Smith, who is only competing in bareback riding at state, came back this season with glory on his mind. He won a District 2 title in bareback riding this season and had a renewed confidence heading into state.
“I wanted to win,” Smith said. “I expect to win. I was disappointed last year. That really drove me to want it more. I know I can compete at a high level.”
Smith will now watch his competitors during Friday’s third-go. Then, he hopes to cash in on championship Saturday.
“I’m going to keep my same attitude, and I’m going to have some fun,” said Smith, who added, “This is my last chance at a state title. I really want to compete here.”
- Highland High’s Cooper Duffin sits in third place after the second go-round in tie-down roping. The junior has 21 total points, trailing Dalton Waid (23 points) and Brayden Roe (24 points). Duffin and partner Chance Moldenhauer are in sixth place in team roping after the second go-round.
- Bancroft’s Logan Corta and Soda Springs High’s Dustin Thompson are near the top of the steer wrestling standings. Corta sits in third place, one spot ahead of Thompson’s fourth-place mark. Corta and Thompson — the District 8 all-around champion — both have 18.50 points, but Corta is listed in third place. Cole Eiguren leads the field with 29 points.