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Steer, broncs no match for east-side buckaroos

South Summit’s K.C. Fryer loves to wrestle.

In fact, he’ll wrestle just about anything, man or beast. This past week, the high school wrestler and steer wrestler displayed his love for the sport at the Utah High School Rodeo Championships in Heber. Fryer steer-wrestled his way from a No. 5 ranking to winning in the championship round on Saturday at the city’s state fairgrounds.

Fryer was successful from the start, winning the first go-round and taking second in the next one. That put him in first place heading into the final round and Fryer said his confidence was soaring. He watched some of the cowboys before him struggle and one even fall off the horse, but Fryer didn’t let that shake him.

"I watched things to do and not to do and got together a game plan," Fryer said.

Fryer rode quickly and smoothly into the arena and pulled the steer down in an impressive 5.86 seconds. What’s even more impressive is that this is Fryer’s first year "bull-doggin’," as steer wrestling is commonly known.

"I thought I could make top 10," Fryer said. "I never thought I’d win."

It was a bittersweet week for Harley Atkinson, last year’s bareback state champion. The recent South Summit High School graduate was riding in his last rodeo and barely missed capturing the state title again. Atkinson spent the fall making a name for himself on the gridiron and earning all-state recognition in the process. When spring rolled around, he was back in the arena, furiously competing in enough rodeos to qualify for the state championships. Atkinson came into the state finals as the No. 1-seeded cowboy in bareback event but knew that Grantsville’s Ethan NcNeill, was breathing down his neck in the hunt for the championship, trailing by only a point in the standings. Atkinson got an unlucky draw of a horse and McNeill was able to move past him to win the event in Saturday’s championship round.

"I had to beat him by three points to win," Atkinson said. "I’m a little disappointed."

With a second-place finish, Atkinson will have the opportunity to literally "get back on the horse" and compete for a strong finish at the national championships.

It’s also the final season for Atkinson’s mother, Christy, who is retiring as South Summit’s high school rodeo club director as Harley graduates and moves on. Christy said she was proud of the club this year and is excited to see how the team fares at the national championships in late July.

"It was a great finals," she said.

She was also proud of her son’s efforts.

"He just didn’t have the horses," Christy lamented. "When you’re a senior, there’s a lot of pressure."

Other local cowboys also did well. Brady Nicholes took sixth overall in saddle broncs and the duo of Rhett Anderson and Dillon Hoffman made their way to fourth in team roping. Anderson and Hoffman aren’t from Summit County, but choose to rope together with the South Summit Club. The duo has been roping as a team for three years and plan to get together every other week this summer to practice for the national championships. Other competitors included Chase Black from Coalville, who competed in steer wrestling and Lachelle Lewis and Bailee Sizemore in the Rodeo Queen competition.

The National High School Finals Rodeo will be held July 20-26 in Farmington, New Mexico. The top four in each category at the high school level qualify for the national championships. Visit http://www.nhsra.com for more information and results.


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