Staying aboard a 1,500-pound bucking bronc for eight seconds, while gripping only a simple braided rein, was not a problem for 16-year-old Trevor Haught.
Evidence of the Payson High School sophomore's riding expertise surfaced during the past Arizona High School Rodeo Association season. In 12 rodeos held around Arizona, Haught rode every bareback bronc assigned him, to eventually win the state title with 163.5 points.
"It was close for the championship," he said. "The second place (bareback bronc contestant) had 161.5 points."
As a state champion, Haught is a member of the Wrangler High School All-Star program and will wear an Arizona-event championship patch on his official competition shirt.
With the state win in the rodeo record books, Haught has qualified for the 59th Annual National High School Rodeo Association Finals, to be held July 22 through July 28 in Springfield, Ill.
There, he will be among the more than 1,500 prep contestants from 40 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia vying for over $200,00 in prizes, $325,000 in college scholarships and the chance to be named a National High School Rodeo Champion.
To earn the title, Haught will have to finish in the top 22 after two go-arounds. If he does, Haught will advance to Saturday night's final championship performance, which will be televised nationally.
In winning the Arizona High School championship, Haught entered the June 8 and 9 finals in Taylor, just two points ahead of the runner-up.
Although Haught didn't win the Taylor event, he finished second in the averages. That finish earned him enough points to nail down the state title.
In three rides, his best score was 69 aboard Baby Face. The highest score of his young career was a 72, carded last year at a Pima rodeo.
Haught said his best tallies are scored on high-kicking broncos.
"I like the kind that kind of float, it gives me a little more time," he said.
When not competing in high school events, Haught travels the Grand Canyon Pro Rodeo Association circuit, competing in open shows to preserve his amateur status.
Haught, who lives on the Cross F Ranch near Sunflower with his parents, became interested in the sport during his eighth-grade year when he first climbed aboard a wild bronc.
"I really liked it and it was something I could do (well)," he said.
Although Haught is certain bareback riding will remain his favorite rodeo event, he's set to test his skills in at least two other competitions.
"I'd like to try saddle bronc (riding) and team roping," he said.
Those endeavors, coupled with his academic studies at Payson High School and the one-hour commute to and from the Cross F, will represent a full schedule for the teen.
Looking for sponsors
In traveling to Springfield for the National High School Finals, Haught and his family must foot the considerable bill to represent Payson and Arizona.
Currently, Trevor is seeking sponsors to aid with trip expenses.
To become a sponsor or for more information, call Haught at (602) 448-0382.