Wyatt Denny figured three good rides would be the key to bringing home a title from the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo.
The Douglas County cowboy was two-thirds of the way to achieving his goal Friday night when Denny produced a 65-point ride at the Sweetwater Events Complex to place second for the performance and stay within striking distance of earning the title during the 65th annual national rodeo. He finished with the fourth best score in the second round.
Denny, who tied for second-place in bareback riding at the national finals last year, was only four points out of first-place coming into the short go on Saturday.
There is obviously little room for error against competition during a week-long event in which 48 states, Canadian provinces and Australia are represented.
“You’ve definitely got to have three good rides to get up there,” Denny said.
Nevertheless, he didn’t feel any extra pressure coming into his second round ride Friday night.
“I’m just going to treat it like any other ride and just go get on and do what I gotta do,” he said earlier in the day.
Denny got off on the right foot Monday morning when he emerged as the first performance winner with his score of 72. He was awarded a re-ride when his first horse had some problems in the chute.
“My first horse came out of the chute backward so I got a re-ride,” Denny said.
He score was also good for a share of third-place at the end of the first round. Preston Burr of Stratford, Texas, led at the end of the first round with his 76, however, he slipped to a 52 and fourth-place in his Friday morning performance.
Denny, the two-time Nevada state bareback and all-around champion, had a similar start at the national finals in 2012 when he posted a 75-point score to take an early lead. He also placed second in the short round to secure his runner-up finish.
Bareback riding isn’t the only event at nationals Denny qualified for. In the boys cutting competition on Thursday night, he finished sixth in the ninth performance by posting a score of 127 points.
Ashley Martinkus, a Douglas Rodeo Club member who lives in Washoe Valley, finished 18th on Sunday in the first barrel racing performance.