Story by Riata Cummings Grayce Baxter is a rodeo athlete and senior at Lehi High School. She enjoys “all things medical” and is currently taking […]
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In hopes of making it to Nationals, Ceely Davis demonstrated the rewards of hard work and earned top positions within the standings heading into her second qualification to the UHSRA finals. Holding onto the number-one seed in the reigning cow horse, Ceely’s goals were accomplished in her second year in the organization as she was crowned the Utah State champion and extended her National qualification with a successful tie for fourth place in the girl’s cutting.
The 18-year-old cowgirl has had lengthy experience in equine showing, as she is much involved in jumpers and additional horse events, but a limited supply of English showing around her home of the Uintah Basin led Ceely to discovering rodeo. “We bought a reigning cow horse and she decided to give it a try,” said her mom, Kathy, who did not rodeo, but has protracted knowledge with equine showing. Ceely’s dad (Ron) is a former rodeo athlete and while her older brother (Kazden) does not compete, her younger sister (Sydney) has received the bug and will begin eighth grade competition within the UJHSRA next year, alongside her English showing competition.
Joining the Uintah High School alumni, Ceely is a former track and cross country athlete, along with a participant in FFA and the National Honor Society. A bright future ahead will lead Ceely to Utah State University, where she will join the riding team and major in equine science with additional plans of going on mission in a year.
First year UHSRA member, Dallin Weight, took to his rookie state finals as a double-event contender in the boys cutting and the team roping with heeling partner Casey Neff. Never too late to teach an old dog new tricks, the 18-year-old cowboy says that team roping is his primary event and has been leaving the header’s box since he was 13 years old, but Dallin has only been a cutter for approximately three months. “A good friend of my dad’s trains cutting horses. He and I made a deal that if he starts roping, then I would cut, using his horses,” Dallin said. As the recent graduate of Springville High School accepted the challenge, he quickly discovered that he enjoys the event and has extended his list of association competition from the UHSRA and the American Cowboys Team Roping Association – where he qualified for last year’s finals and worked his way to placing positions – to the National Cutting Horse Association.
Raised within the rodeo world with older brother (Austin, 20), who ropes on occasion and is a former football player, Dallin says that he knew which direction he would take from a little buckaroo. “My dad and uncles grew up doing it and I just wanted to do it too,” he said. “I have my parents and family to thank for getting me to this point and supporting me the whole way through.” Set on his path, Dallin plans on entering his rookie year with the Rocky Mountain Professional Rodeo Association after high school competition, and eventually, working his way to his ultimate long-term goal of competing at the NFR. “Overall, I just want to be able to succeed in the sport, which will take me to the next level each time,” he said.
National cutting qualifier, Justus Penrod, soared in performance during the UHSRA Finals. Placing among the top seven in the first go-round, fourth in the second-go and then continued to climb the ladder by tying for first place in the last-go, put the 18-year-old cowboy finishing third in the average race and in fourth position within the boys cutting with 118.5 points. “It was great. Justus went out with a bang,” said his mom, Erica. In a first-time appearance, Justus has assigned himself the task of making three clean rides and keeping his average up at the National level. “He really applies himself and works hard on his craft and ability to compete mentally, which are skills that the rodeo environment has taught him and he will carry throughout his life,” Erica said. In order to accomplish what he has set out to do, Justus will put in the extra practice, along with studying himself and additional former competitors at Nationals. “You have to dream big and just go for it,” Erica included.
Carrying a long line of cutting competitors in his blood, Justus’ dream to compete in the event was something that he wanted to do. His grandpa (Brent), his dad (Cody), a former top four National finisher, and uncles, one of which is a former National champion, has passed the talent to Justus and his younger brother (Ty), who is a current UHSRA cutter and team roper, along with their younger sisters who plan on rodeoing and cutting when the time comes. “Having the background and support in the group really creates some special memories, which they will have for the rest of their lives,” Erica said and included that, while she does not compete, is the cheerleader of the group. “I‘m just a nervous wreck in the stands and they tease me about it all of the time.” Having been riding most of his life, Justus really got serious about the event when he was approximately 15 years old, but will also rope outside of the association.
A recent graduate of Payson High School, Justus enjoys spending his time welding and working within the auto shop, but also extends his interests to hunting. “Outside of riding horses, hunting is his thing and he has loved it since he was little, which is another activity that he enjoys doing with the family,” Erica said.
While he is not definite on his future plans, Justus will spend the summer rodeoing and working on the family farm. “He is a very hard worker. He works with the horses and helps his grandpa on the farm raising and hauling hay,” Erica said.