Dalton Rudman holds on during a bull riding competition at the Utah High School State Finals last year.
Photo Courtesy Shalisha Moosman
At first glance, Dalton Rudman seems like your typical teenager. His schedule is busy with school, sports and spending time with friends. But behind the soft spoken and quiet demeanor, Rudman is an athlete who utilizes his talents in a very unique way.
Through the fall and winter months, Rudman, 17, can be found shooting jumpers on the basketball court at Pinnacle Canyon Academy as he looks to perfect his shot as a member of the Pinnacle High boys basketball team. But in the Spring and Summer months, Rudman can be found participating in an entirely different type of sport that many students his age wouldn't dare try: Bull Riding.
"My friends call me crazy," said Rudman, a senior at Pinnacle High School. "They all think it's really dangerous for me to be doing but they say I'm brave for wanting to do it."
Bull riding is nothing new for Rudman. Since getting involved in the activity at the age of 12, Rudman has been riding bulls ever since. Despite not being the biggest person for his age, Rudman said he doesn't think too much before getting on the back of a bull that can range in weight from 1,300 to 2,500 lbs.
Over time, Rudman has seen his fair share of success winning a number of Bull Riding belt buckles along the way. And along with the happiness of winning the buckles has come the effects of participating in the sport. A few broken bones, a concussion and numerous bumps, bruises and sore muscles after each event. But aside from the injuries, Rudman said it's a love for the sport that drives him to keep coming back.
"I was nervous when I first started bull riding but I quickly learned that it's one sport where you don't have to be the best at it and it can still be fun," he explained.
Rudman's hard work in the sport has paid off as he is currently sitting in first place in Bull Riding competition in the Utah High School Rodeo. He is hoping to continue his success in the event when the rodeo season starts back up in April.
"It takes a lot of preparation and dedication to reach that level of being in first place," said Jill Jensen, an adviser with the Carbon Rodeo Club. "It's pretty intimidating getting up there on a bull, but Dalton's grown and become a better bull rider each year."
While the objective is to stay on the back of the bull for at least eight seconds, Rudman said the time after the gate opens and the bull starts bucking around can feel like an eternity. So before getting situated on the back of the bull, Rudman goes through a number of techniques he has picked up over the years.
"I'll do a lot of stretching and I'll tape my wrists and hands before I go out there. And I remember to always laugh a little and have fun," he said. From there he begins to clear his mind by shutting out all noises around him, working to get full concentration. For those eight seconds or less on the back of a bull, it's the culmination of many hours of work and practice leading up to each competition.
"To me, it's (bull riding) the best feeling out there," said Rudman, the son of Debbie Jensen and Robin Rudman.
While Rudman has been hard at work riding bulls for the rodeo team, he is also busy inserting his name into the minds of opposing teams on the basketball court.
Rudman and the rest of the Pinnacle High Panthers basketball team have taken the season by storm with a 13-5 record and an offense that emphasizes getting the ball up the court quickly. With a new fast break style offense installed in the off-season by head coach Andrew Olson, Rudman and his teammates have put many points on the board, to the tune of averaging 75 points per game.
"The new offense has been big for us this season," Rudman said. "We just try to go with the flow and get everybody involved on offense."
In the off-season, much like practicing and preparing for riding bulls, Rudman said he spent hours in the gym shooting jump shots. Olson said the extra work Rudman put in over the summer has played a big role in his play this season.
Rudman is currently second in the state across all classes for 3-point shooting with 65 shots made in 18 games.
"Dalton has come a long way since last season," Olson said. "He is very dedicated and has worked very hard to get better as a senior."
When he finds an open window to shoot from beyond the arc, Rudman never hesitates. He gets the ball, finds the correct shooting grip and is quickly leaping in the air before releasing the ball over an opposing defender before they have time to react.
"I just catch the ball and shoot it when I'm open behind the arc," said Rudman, who averages 3.6 made 3-pointers per game.
Because the Panthers are not the biggest team in class 1A, they are usually battling for rebounds and loose balls against teams with more size. Rudman and his teammates have embraced the idea of using their speed and athleticism to overcome any disadvantages they face as a smaller team.
"We don't mind battling with bigger players for rebounds and loose balls," he said. "It's hard, but we can't get intimidated by having to play against teams with bigger players."
When the Panthers struggled through a three-game losing streak in late January, Rudman and his teammates took it hard. Rudman, upset with his play during the losing streak, decided to follow through on a bet he made before the Region 19 schedule started. So when he showed up to practice shortly after the team's loss to Monument Valley on Jan. 19, Rudman's long flowing hair was gone and a shaved head was put in its place.
"I was just joking around with the bet of shaving it," he said. "I had thought about shaving it completely bald but I decided against doing that."
With just a few games left in the season, Rudman and the Panthers are looking to secure their spot in the 1A State Playoffs after just missing the cut last season. Rudman credits the hard work the team has put in over the year to getting better as one of the main reasons for the team's success this season.
"We've been playing with each other for awhile now and we've learned to trust each other out on the court," he said. "We've done a great job this year."
Outside of the basketball court and the rodeo arena, Rudman also works hard in the classroom earning a 3.6 GPA. He likes the smaller atmosphere that Pinnacle High provides and lists Math as his favorite subject. "It just comes naturally for me I guess," he said.
Rudman is planning on going to college after graduation and is hopeful he can find a school that provides him with the opportunity to continue competing in rodeo.
"I want to continue participating in rodeo for as long as I can," he said.