In many ways, Springville junior Scott Lauaki is just like the other cowboys and cowgirls that are competing in this week’s Utah State High School Rodeo Finals in Heber City.
He grew up around horses, he “cowboys” for his job and he’s been doing rodeo for a few years.
Lauaki’s heritage, however, has earned him some unique nicknames:
The Flyin’ Hawaiian, the Hawaiian Hammer, and the Hawaiian Flash.
He brings a unique mix of Hawaiian heritage from his dad’s side and cowboy tradition from his mom’s side.
“I just got into cowboy-ing with my mom’s brother and got going from there,” Lauaki said. “I’ve been doing that since I was little.”
While Utah high school rodeo athletes are predominantly Caucasian, there are always some representatives of other ethnicities including African-American, Hispanic-American and Native American.
Lauaki said it is a little more rare to have someone of Hawaiian descent but explained that all that really matters in rodeo is what someone can do.
The Red Devil has already proven during his junior year that he has some solid rodeo skills. He came into state third in the saddle bronc (behind his cousin Clayson Hutchings and the defending national all-around champion Stetson Wright) as well as making it to the finals in steer wrestling and team roping.
“Saddle bronc riding and steer wrestling are my favorites,” Lauaki said. “When I started actually covering the saddle broncs I started really having fun with it.”
He admitted that he’s gotten bucked off quite a bit, but said the worst injury he has suffered was having his arm get stepped on.
“You have to pay the consequences,” Lauaki said.
On Thursday morning, he showed off his talent in the steer wrestling competition.
He had to be ready to go right from the start, since he was the first competitor of the event.
“You have to make sure all the timers are working,” Lauaki said. “They want to make sure everything is going well.”
But Lauaki had seen the steer he had drawn in action on Wednesday and liked his chances.
“I watched the kid who had him yesterday and he was pretty good,” Lauaki said. “He was a little stiffer coming around, but I just had to make it work.”
He drove the steer to the ground in 6.2 seconds, a time that no one in the rest of the round could match as he earned first place.
Lauaki said steer wrestling requires both size and skill.
“To be good, you have to have good technique,” Lauaki said. “It also helps to have a heavier build.”
He completed the first go-round in all three of his events Thursday morning, then finished his second-go in the steer wrestling Thursday evening. He also will compete in the team-roping and the saddle bronc riding on Friday before the short-go on Saturday.
Lauaki said he’s just enjoying every minute of the competition.
“I love competing with my cousin and friends, having everyone there together,” Lauaki said.