In the early going of the opening night of the Cache County Rodeo, it looked like the spot to be was first out.
Of the seven events contested, whoever went first ended up with the best score or time in four of those. In fact, the pattern got off to that start when the first three events began just that way.
Kaycee Field made it three straight events in the bareback riding. The two-time National Finals Rodeo (NFR) qualifier was just happy to be back competing. Thursday night marked his first night back after taking off eight weeks because of a broken right arm, where he had a plate and seven screws inserted.
The son of five-time world champion Lewis Field didn't look to have much rust from the layoff. He covered Pocahontas in thrilling fashion, scoring an 85.
"I've been doing a lot of therapy, so I think my arm is stronger than before," said Field, who despite missing nearly two months is still fourth in the world standings because of some big wins before the injury. "I just hope I can keep drawing good and riding good. When you are riding good and positive, you are going to win.
His plan is to finish strong and head to the NFR for the third straight year with some momentum. Field, who is competing in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for the fourth season, tied for second in the world last year.
The 23-year-old Payson cowboy turned in the best score Thursday night, but he had some stiff competition from several of his traveling partners. Joe Gunderson of Agar, S.D., turned in an 84, while Jessy Davis of Payson had a 79-point ride. Gunderson is currently 14th in the world.
"Jess and Joe always ride really good, and they did tonight," Field said.
Field competed one year collegiately - where he won the national title - before hitting the PRCA road full time. He competed at Utah Valley State, where his father is the coach. Does he ever get compared to his father, who also was an NFR all-around champ?
"They do, but you have to look past it," Field said. "He did his thing, and I've got to do mine. I'm my own man. ... He was one of the best teachers I could have."
Cache Valley native Colton Bair, who now calls Lehi home, is very familiar with the Field family. He has competed collegiately at UVS, recently wrapping up his senior year with another trip to the College National Finals, where he placed sixth. Bair went to the Orem school to learn from the elder Field.
Now he is hitting the Wilderness Circuit and trying to move up in the standings from his current position of 13th. Bair rode Goldielocks - an eight-time NFR horse - to a score of 77.
"I've been getting a check here and there, which helps," Bair said. "... I knew she (Goldielocks) is a good horse, but she is one of those that doesn't have the same trip. She'll go out there and pull something different every time."
Bair said the ride felt good. Getting off was another matter, but he safely reached the arena floor.
Another cowboy trying to make a move in the Wilderness Circuit is bull rider Riker Carter. The Stone, Idaho, cowboy made a big move in the right direction Thursday.
He covered Chism - "a crowd pleasing bull" according to the announcer - for the eight seconds and was rewarded with a mark of 86 to the delight of the crowd.
"I knew he was a pretty hard bull, because a bunch of my friends have drawn him and got bucked off lately," Carter said. "He was pretty rank. He is a little intimidating, but you just got to give 110 (percent)."
The recent high school graduate is off to Odessa (Texas) College to ride bulls. He was the National High School champion as a sophomore.
The rodeo began with Frank McKay turning in a 77 in the saddle bronc riding. Max Filippini did match the score. In steer wrestling, Alex Hover began the event with a 4.5 second run. The other event where the first competitor to go and remain in first was barrel racing, where Shelby Maxfield turned in a run of 17.16 seconds.
In other events Thursday, tie down roper Bryan Kendrick had the best time of 9.3. A pair of team ropers are tied at 7.2 seconds in Jake Jarvis and Cody Young and Rob Webb and Dan Webb.