Coming into this week’s 2019 Utah High School Rodeo Finals, three cowboys were tied atop the standings in the saddle bronc competition.

While Wade Stansfield of the Juab rodeo club has had a great season, the other two — recent Springville graduates Scott Lauaki and Clayson Hutchings — are hoping one of the duo secures the state title.

“We’re pretty easy-going cousins, so it’s pretty easy,” Lauaki said Thursday after winning the event in the morning performance. “As long as one of us brings the win home, we’ll be happy. We’re good to each other.”

Lauaki drew a bucking horse named Tiny Todd for his ride on Thursday. He got settled into position, got into rhythm, stayed on for the required time and earned a score of 71 points.

That’s a solid ride, but he is looking to improve.

“I’m sitting third in the go-round right now,” Lauaki said. “I’ll have to wait for the second round to see what place I get. Tiny Todd started strong right out of the chute, so I started the ride and knew I had to finish him strong.”

Lauaki was just behind Hutchings in the first go-round as his cousin had a 72-point ride.

While neither Lauaki nor Hutchings could match the 74-point ride that Stran Nielson of the Juab rodeo club put together to win the go-round, their showings on the first two days did keep them at the top of the standings.

Hutchings tacked on nine points to his 70 point total to take the lead, while Lauaki’s eight points mean he is right behind his cousin.

Both riders were getting ready for the second go-round Thursday evening and on Friday, and then the short-go on Saturday night. All of which means there were more opportunities to do what these cowboys love to do.

Lauaki, who is known by the nickname, “the Hawaiian Hammer,” said the best feeling is the adrenaline of climbing onto the back of a bucking horse and getting ready for the chute to be opened.

“You keep calm and keep it simple, then see what the horse is going to throw at you,” Lauaki said. “Then you try to handle it the best you can and try to have fun with it.”

It’s a rush that Lauaki hopes to keep getting as he wraps up his high school rodeo career and looks to move on to the next level.

“I’m just cowboying right now but next year we are going to try to hit the pro rodeo circuit,” Lauaki said. “We’re going to try and make it. It’s a big eye-opener, for sure.”

He said he knows he will have to work hard to make it at the next level.

“We’ll keep riding hard and keep trying,” Lauaki said. “It’s about dedicating yourself and practicing hard. It will make it all worth it. You have to believe in yourself and know you can do it.”

He said graduating high school was “very refreshing and relaxing” but said it’s kind of strange to think of this as his last Utah high school rodeo finals.

“It’s sad but cool,” Lauaki said. “There will be more rodeos.”

He had some good advice for the next generation of high school cowboys and cowgirls.

“You need to know for sure what your plan is, know your plan,” Lauaki said. “Then stick with it. That’s probably the best advice I could give someone.”

Daily Herald sports reporter Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

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