Hernando County's Lee Pedone, the state bareback riding champ, put himself in position to challenge for a national championship by scoring a 73 on the first of his two rides Tuesday.
Pedone, 16, was the top scorer in the morning session and ranked second overall. Riders can earn 100 points per attempt.
Pedone's eight-second trip ended just in time, as he was bucked off as time elapsed. His last ride will be Friday.
Clint Corey, a bareback rider ranked 17th on the professional tour who instructed Pedone in his rodeo school, expects nothing short of a championship from his protege.
"He's a very good rider, a very serious young man at what he does," Corey said. "He's going to have himself quite a future in this sport if he wants it."
The county's other participant in the finals, barrel racer Joy Benedict, is scheduled to compete today.
Florida's 43-person team ws tied for 21st after two days.