By Lillian Landreth
Statler Wright made his mark in two highly competitive rodeo worlds during the 2022 season. The 18-year-old from Beaver, Utah not only worked hard to qualify for the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR), but also climbed steadily through both the world and Resistol rookie PRCA standings to finish 2nd in the rookie standings and 20th in the nation in the saddle bronc riding. “It’s awesome! I just proved to myself that I should be up there [in pro rodeo], and I didn’t even have a full year and I got that close. Hopefully with a full year of rodeo I can make it to the WNFR.”
All in the Family
The son of two-time world champion saddle bronc rider Cody Wright, and brother to Rusty, Ryder, and Stetson—plus numerous uncles who are WNFR qualifiers and world champions in rodeo’s classic event—Statler has an abundance of solid advice and bronc riders to look up to. He is yet to get on a bronc in pro rodeo that someone in his family hasn’t ridden.
“Spring Tunes was probably my favorite bronc that I got on. Stetson got on that horse in Sisters, Oregon and was an 86—I personally thought it should’ve been a 96 because it was awesome. Rusty got on that horse in Tremonton, Utah and was a 92 and Ryder got on him in Canada and was a 94.5, so when I saw the draw in Ellensburg, I knew I had the one to win the round on, I just had to do my part. Lo and behold, Stetson beat me again,” Statler says with a laugh. “I still hate second place, but if I’m going to be there, I want to be behind those guys.”
Many of the rodeos outside of Utah were new to Statler, who particularly enjoyed the Reno Rodeo and splitting the win there with Sage Newman. Statler won a total of 10 PRCA rodeos this season, including the Resistol Rookie Roundup in Fort Worth, Texas. A week after his win in Reno, he competed in the NHSFR, making the decision to turn out of Salinas, which was tough but turned out to be a good move. Statler was crowned the 2022 NHSFR Saddle Bronc Riding Champion. “I almost felt more nervous because I felt I had more to prove to myself for some reason,” says Statler, who had 13 points to make up for in the final round and move him from second to first place. The leader missed out his horse in the short round and Statler’s 77-point ride cinched his first NHSRA title. “It was really big because everyone in my family has a national title, so to join that was very special.”
While he anxiously awaits the start of the 2023 season, Statler is focusing on healing his meniscus, which he tore at the Caldwell Night Rodeo. He also competed in the Wilderness Circuit Finals in November and plans to be in Las Vegas for all ten rounds of the WNFR, cheering on his brothers Stetson and Ryder. Statler’s dad heads the horses out behind the bucking chutes during the WNFR, and Statler’s grandpa, Bill Wright, runs one of the gates. “Sitting in the stands makes me more hungry to get there,” says Statler, who will also be competing in the Smith Pro Rodeo Futurity while in Las Vegas. “I love that place.”
About the Author
Lillian Landreth is a freelance writer and editor. She particularly enjoys writing about rodeo and the extraordinary people and animals who make the lifestyle fascinating. The author of more than 1,000 stories, her writing has appeared in the Rodeo News; The Ketchpen, published by the Rodeo Historical Society and National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum; and local newspapers. She is also working on her first novel. When she’s not writing, Lily enjoys riding with the Snake River Stampeders night light drill team, coaching the EhCapa Bareback Riders, a PRCA specialty act, and teaching horseback riding lessons. She makes her home in Southwest Idaho with her entrepreneurial husband, their dog, horse, and cows.