Evans blends hoops and rodeo worlds

EVANSTON — Lance Evans is six-foot, seven inches tall and is pretty much through growing. He’s had the x-rays for which that determination can be made. 

He has great size for a high school basketball player about to enter his senior season with the Evanston Red Devils but in rodeo? Surely, he must be the tallest competitor to compete in the National High School Finals Rodeo. Tallest, well sort of. But not necessarily the biggest.

“At nationals, there was a kid about my height, but he had me by at least 80 pounds,” Evans told the Herald.

“I think he could have wrestled a bear.”

Evans competed in the national finals rodeo for high school participants in reined cow horse this past fall and described the venue.

“It’s been nice to have it in Rock Springs where I can drive in and out,” Evans said.

“It’s like a mini-city over there, with 1700 contestants. It’s kind of crazy with people piled on top of each other, kind of a zoo, sometimes, but fun.”

Evans detailed the competition. 

“There are two go-rounds and if you place in the top-20, you make it back to the short go-round,” Evans explained.

“I won the first go-round and didn’t have such a good run in the second, so I didn’t make the short go,” he added.

Evans placed 21st in 2018. He tied for 12th nationally in his freshman year of 2016.

Reined cow horse is not a traditional rodeo event but has its own sanctioned association, according to Evans.

It consists of three stages where a horse and rider circle a cow, turn the cow in a specified manner and perform a reining pattern.  The horse and rider are judged on the precision of the reining pattern, herd work and fence work.

Evans owns two Utah state titles which must be reached to qualify for the national finals rodeo. His trophies include two beautiful saddles and over 30 buckles. Other rodeo honors from the Beehive State include Horse of the Year for two years in a row.

NRCHA (National Reined Cow Horse Association) is the governing body covering reined cow horse competitions, but Evans explained he can also compete in AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) shows, which often feature reined cow horse competitions.

Evans credits his grandfather, Doug Hatch, a Rich County ranch owner, for the inspiration to compete in rodeo and his love of the sport. He started out as a team-roper, but that time-honored event of rodeo didn’t excite him much. He tried reined cow horse with his 4-H horse as a youngster and a match was made.
He will have one last opportunity to compete for a national title at the National High School Finals Rodeo in his senior season this spring, if all goes well in state competitions to qualify for the event.

Susan Evans, Lance’s mother, provides a great deal of support across the board, and usually accompanies her son to competitions. 

Evans is excited for the upcoming season of Red Devil basketball. He has played mostly in the post throughout his hoops career, noting, “There’s not much distinction between playing the four or the five,” but his senior season could be different.

Most of the offensive output went through graduated seniors Braxton Hiatt and Chase Critchfield for the Red Devils last year. This season, Evans hopes to play more of a scoring role to help make up for the production the Red Devils will miss with the departures of the one-two scoring punch from 2017-18. Evans aspires to potentially play more of a stretch four, with his outside range and ball-handling capability.

The EHS senior has applied to a few colleges he would like to attend to pursue an engineering degree, perhaps mechanical, civil or electrical. He doubts whether college rodeo is in his future, due to the expense associated with it. 

As far as basketball being a part of his college experience, he’s open to the possibility, but will simply approach the season with a “wait and see” attitude, as far as any forthcoming offers materializing. His hope and focus are for an outstanding season and a Red Devil state title.


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