SHAWNEE — When Wyatt Rogers steps into the bucking chute Thursday night at the International Finals Youth Rodeo, he will pause for a few seconds to say a prayer and ask his father to watch over him.
It’s something the Locust Grove High School senior does each time since his father’s sudden death in May. Wyatt now rides for his dad, Dusty.
“This year is all for my dad,” Wyatt said. “The IFYR (International Youth Finals Rodeo) and nationals is all for him.”
Warren “Dusty” Rogers of Rose was a steer wrestler and team roper who began teaching his son to be a cowboy almost as soon as Wyatt left the crib.
“My dad said I had a rope in my hand ever since I could walk,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt thinks his father really wanted him to be a professional roper “but he knew that wasn’t going to happen.” At the IFYR this week, Wyatt is competing in team roping and steer wrestling, but his real passion is riding bulls.
Wyatt has been the Oklahoma high school bull riding champion the past two years. On Monday, he scored an 81 on his first bull in the IFYR and gets his second ride Thursday night.
After the first go-round, Wyatt was third in bull riding behind Jake Gowdy of Bristow and Colorado’s Jessiah Jackson, who scored 85 and 82 on their first bulls. The top 15 in each event after two go-rounds advance to Friday night’s championship round.
Wyatt grew up around the rodeo game. For several years, his parents even produced youth rodeos in northeastern Oklahoma.
“People begged (Dusty) for a year to start putting them back on but he just couldn’t because he didn’t make any money as a producer,” Wyatt said.
Dusty worked two jobs, one as a bus driver, to help support the immediate family and Wyatt’s grandmother. Dusty suffered a serious shoulder injury in January while hazing for a cowboy when his bulldogging horse flipped over a steer, Wyatt said.
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