Oakley cowgirl sisters ready for state final
HEBER CITY — A year ago, Oakley’s Carlee Dick saw her lead in the Utah High School Rodeo Association State Final all-around slowly slip away. The South Summit High School student had to adjust to competing on a new horse three weeks prior to the finals in Heber City after her gelding of five years developed a life-threatening intestinal condition.
On that Saturday night in Heber, Carlee, then a junior, came to grips with the realization that her dream of winning the all-around state title was no longer a possibility.
"When you start winning, you’ve got such a high to keep going," she said a year ago. "When you’re losing, you kind of get in that same streak, just the opposite."
Fast-forward to this week and Carlee is back in the state finals at the Wasatch County Fairgrounds, ready to give it her all as her high school rodeo career comes to an end at the rodeo grounds.
But this year is a little different. Carlee is no longer competing for the all-around title, an award given to a cowboy or cowgirl who is a top finisher in multiple events. This year, her younger sister, Rylee, is up for the all-around state title. And in a touch of irony, Carlee’s horse which almost died a year ago, will be helping Rylee, a sophomore, compete for the all-around in the barrel competition.
Carlee said Rylee was neck-and-neck with a group of senior cowgirls coming into the state final, and her former horse will give her younger sister a shot at completing the dream from a year ago.
"Seeing how I lost, and how hard it was for me to lose it, I just want her to win it," Carlee said. "That’s why I’m letting Rylee use that horse because it’s really consistent and can get you points. It doesn’t get you out of (your routine). If you push it, you’re more willing to get better and better with it."
For Ladd Dick, the family patriarch, this season will have a better ending than last year, regardless of the outcomes in the championship rounds tonight. It was Ladd who took those silent strolls with Carlee in the warm-up area of the arena last June, consoling her after the goal had slipped away.
"We didn’t have as good of a season as we would’ve liked," he reminisced. "It’s still our goal to win the all-around. It’s not as easy as somebody might think. We’ve still got a lot of rodeo to go to win it. It’s going to be down to the wire."
Carlee is competing in four events this week, including team roping, breakaway roping, barrels and cow cutting and continues to compete on the horse she acquired a few weeks prior to last year’s state finals. Rylee, according to Ladd, is one of the only girls in the finals competing in six events.
Carlee said her objective this year is to qualify for nationals in breakaway roping. To do that, Ladd said, she has to finish in the top four this week. Ladd said Carlee could also qualify in nationals in cow cutting.
"This is the end of high school, unfortunately," Carlee said with a chuckle. "We’ll still have amateur rodeos throughout the rest of the summer.
"I really want to go to nationals, but we’ll see."
Ladd Dick said these rodeo finals consist of two full rounds and then a short-round final, which will be held tonight, with the top cowboys and cowgirls competing against one another. At the end of the short round, the judges give a combined average with additional bonus points.
"It makes all the difference in the world," he said. "It’s not just one rodeo because they all combine at the end for a three-rodeo average."
"Just as long as they don’t stub their toe, stay consistent in their runs, they’ll pull through," he added.
With her high-school career fading to black this evening, Carlee said the moment will be bittersweet. She said she’ll be trying her best to qualify for nationals, but cheering on Rylee at the same time.
Asked to summarize her season thus far, she said, "A little bit better, I guess you could say. But I’m still trying to get competing with my old horse."
Ladd Dick added that tonight will be different. This will be the last time Carlee and Rylee compete in a Utah High School Rodeo Association State Final together.
"That’s the thing about rodeo: every run, every horse bucked out, every bull bucked out — it’s a whole new game," he said. "You’re only as good as your last run."
A head-on collision Thursday morning on Brown’s Canyon Road killed the driver of one vehicle and left another driver with critical injuries.