A strong work ethic

Aztec athlete aims to qualify for state in multiple events

Navajo Times | Sunnie Clahchischiligi
Aztec senior Naomi Teasyatwho clears a hurdle during the 100-meter hurdles at Aztec’s home meet, the Penny McKnight Invitational, over the weekend.


Few athletes appreciate every lift, jump, turn and hurdle the way Aztec High School senior Naomi Teasyatwho does.

In just about every meet this season, Teasyatwho competed in eight events: pole vault, long jump, 100-meter dash, 200-, 400- and 800-meter runs, and 100- and 300-meter hurdles.

She approaches each event diligently and competitively because, to her, track and field is more than running in a circle.

“I have loved track since I was really little,” she confessed. “It’s just super exciting and you get a rush from every event that you do, especially if you do well or if you PR then it’s just rewarding just to know how much you worked and how you reached your goal.”

The goal this year is to qualify for the state meet in at least five events and in three unattached. So far she’s on the right track.

Over the weekend at Aztec’s home meet, the Penny McKnight Invitational, Teasyatwho qualified in the 100-meter dash and 300-meter hurdles. She also qualified in the pole vault at a previous meet.

Aztec head track and field coach Steve Lanier said she’s capable of qualifying in just about any event she sets her mind to.

“We can almost put her anywhere. We can probably put her in any event,” he said. “She really is a true, true competitor.”

Lanier has coached Teasyatwho since she was in the sixth grade long before she reached her potential.

He said Teasyatwho wasn’t always the standout athlete she is today.

“It’s kind of evolved over time,” he said. “Between me and her, we had some battles when she was a freshman and sophomore. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to commit to track and field.
“We kind of had that love-hate relationship,” he said. “It’s kind of evolved into total trust both ways.”

As Teasyatwho advanced and started to commit a little more, she reaped the rewards.

With the relay team, she won a state title as an eighth grader and in her freshman and sophomore seasons. Individually, she’s placed fifth and second in pole vault.

Teasyatwho also ran cross-country and was a leader for the girls’ cross-country and track and field teams.

Lanier said hard work and commitment have started to pay off for Teasyatwho.

“Even in cross-country she was the leader of our team and the leader of the girls’ team and even some of the boys, they look up to her in terms of her work ethic. She’s just incredible,” he said. “You can tell she’s just an overall athlete. She can do field events, long distance. I really attribute it to her work ethic.”

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Categories: Track & Field

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at sunnie@navajotimes.com or via cell at (505) 686-0769.