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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Meet the Members Steer Wrestlers
stories by Magie Downare Nevius
Talmage, Utah resident, Baxter Sorenson is all try and determination when it comes to the steer wrestling. Having only started in the event late his junior year, the 18-year-old cowboy has worked his way into the top 25 of the UHSRA standings. “I’ve had half a dozen people approach me and say that Baxter is all heart. He will not give up and just keeps going until there is nothing left,” dad (Billy) said.
Baxter is a 4-year member of the UHSRA, where he also competes in the team roping and tie-down roping, which he has qualified for the state finals every year. “I’d say that steer wrestling is his favorite event. He hasn’t been doing it for very long, but I think it’s the adrenaline rush that he gets from it,” Billy said. While Baxter has competed in the two events since his eighth grade year in the UJHSRA, he added steer wrestling to the list at the request of his dad. “I just want my kids to get every chance that they can to compete and I wanted him to try it out and get the opportunity while he was able,” Billy explained. Taking to the practice pen on a borrowed horse, Baxter got off on his third time out. “He completely ate dirt, but jumped up smiling and he has been going ever since,” Billy said. Since that time, Baxter has made his own horse and gets just as much enjoyment out of training his own horses and getting to compete on them. “His sister even gets the enjoyment from her brother’s horse training. Taking it all into consideration, I find the joy in watching Baxter learn and grow,” Billy (a former team roper) said. “I am able to teach him about team roping, but as far as the tie-down and steer wrestling goes, we are learning together and have had great help from the people that he rodeos with. We have been very lucky being a part of a great group of people [UHSRA], where the competitors help each other. I think that is a major thing, where other sports have a lot of selfishness involved, rodeo is surrounded by good sportsmanship, which is a good way to raise kids.” In quick progression, Baxter also competes in the National Little Britches Rodeo Association, where he is a two-time National Finals qualifier in all three events.
The senior at Altamont High School extends his extracurricular activities to the FFA and working on the family ranch, running 100 head of mother cows. He and his younger sister (Jordyn, 15) have received a background in agriculture from their parents (mom, Kristi) as both were raised on ranches and have worked cattle their entire lives. “The two of us didn’t rodeo a lot, but we do what we can to help our kids along the way,” Billy said.
Baxter and Jordyn (UHSRA team roping, breakaway roping and barrel racing competitor) will continue to hit the trail and work their way to the finals. “Baxter would like to go to Nationals, but his main goal is to do as good as he can every time. He’s competitive, but not a demanding person and doesn’t dwell on the bad; instead, he regroups and has the mentality to try harder next time,” Billy said.
Four-time state qualifier, Andrew Basile enters the arena as a quadruple-event contender; competing in the steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping and cutting. The 18-year-old cowboy has set his sights on winning state in the steer wrestling and calf roping for his final season with the UHSRA. “Most importantly, I want to qualify for Nationals,” he said.
While his mom (Nikki) is a former Dixie State University basketball player and his dad (Daemon) is a former two-time steer wrestling and one-time calf roping National High School qualifier, Andrew received the capability to compete from his parents. “Mom is not a rodeoer, but does ride a little and is very supportive when it comes to me rodeoing. She comes as often as she can and offers help where she can,” Andrew said. “Dad is 100 percent supportive. He gets me down the road and hasn‘t missed more than two since I started. He supplies me with the horses and equipment that I need to compete and without him, I wouldn‘t be rodeoing.” Andrew originally got into roping through his dad, who got his start through his grandpa, who owned land and ran cattle throughout Utah and Nevada. He began in local events prior to competing in the UJHSRA as an eighth grader, where he missed a National qualification with a no time in the short-go of the state finals. When it comes to his family competing, Andrew is not alone as younger sister (Allie, 14) competes within the UHSRA in the cutting and breakaway. While his younger sister (Taylor, 17) used to rodeo, but gave it up to be a cheerleader, his youngest sister (Alexa, 9) looks forward to the day that she can compete.
The senior Desert Hill High School used to play basketball and baseball, but quit in order to focus on rodeo. “I’m enjoying having that free time to devote to rodeo,” Andrew said. “I have the support of Cowboy Courtage with Rocky Mountain Ropes, who have been very good to me and supply me with equipment. I would recommend the equipment to anyone and am very grateful for their support and making it easier to go down the road.”
For the future, Andrew will start his two-year LDS mission in August. Upon his return, Andrew hopes to attend Dixie State University and rodeo.
For 18-year-old cowboy, DJ Holmes, being horseback and working with cattle is where he is most at home. Devoting his time in and out of the arena to his craft, DJ likes to move cows and rope around his home in Vernal, Utah, but also enjoys the occasional hunting and fishing trip. “I work on the family ranch, where we have about 300 head of cattle,” DJ said. The Holmes sit proud on the fact that everyone of the horses that anyone in the family competes on were all bred, raised, broke and trained by them. “They are all ours 100 percent and that is a huge accomplishment. We have to break and train all our horses and that has taught me what it means to be a cowboy and proud,” DJ said.
The four-year member of the UHSRA has already added a fourth trip to his résumé as a state qualifier as he competes in the steer wrestling, calf roping and team roping, but designates dogging steers as his favorite. “I just love it. It’s the excitement and adrenaline rush that I get when I compete that makes it so much fun for me,” he said. The senior has set his final season goal to win state in the steer wrestling and making it to Nationals in all of his events. “Especially the steer wrestling,” DJ said.
In the beginning, DJ says that he was not fond of steer wrestling. “I thought it was crazy to jump off of your horse, but once I did I had fun,” he said. “It was my Godfather who got me into it and I think I was about 15 years old.”
Starting out riding and roping at around 3 years old, DJ progressed to a three-time UJHSRA state qualifier and finished in the top 30 in his qualification to Nationals in three events as an eighth grader. Having developed the knack to compete from his parents (Kevin and KayDe), who both took to High School rodeo, where KayDe finished as a two-time Nationals qualifier. As his dad still ropes, his mom works the chutes. “My dad is my hazer and my toughest, but best, coach,” DJ said. Younger brother (KC, eighth grade) carries on as the youngest family competitor in the chute dogging, ribbon roping, calf roping and team roping within the UJHSRA. “Our parents are very supportive and take us everywhere,” DJ said.