International Indian Finals Rodeo crowns 14 world champions
By Quentin Jodie
ALBUQUERQUE, September 20, 2012
(Special to the Times – Donovan Quintero)
A fter numerous tries, O.J. Williams finally broke through.
The Whitecone, Ariz., team roper has qualified for the International Indian Finals Rodeo several times, but the one thing that he was missing in his resume was a world title.
On Sunday at Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque he bucked the trend by roping his final draw with partner Blaine Redhorse in 6.5 seconds to grabbed that one title that has eluded him for years.
Williams said it was nice to finally get that monkey off his back and credited his partner for a job well done. Sunday's win happened to be Redhorse's first world title as well.
The pair placed three rounds and won the four-head average in 28.8 seconds, which was nearly three seconds better than Montana team of Eric Watson and Spider Ramone.
The latter pair finished the average race in 31.4 seconds.
Buddy Sells and Kevin Yazzie copped third place honors by catching three of four steers in 20.8 seconds while Marco Sells and Lucius Sells settled for fourth place with a time of 26.7 on three heads.
The bareback event also had a first-time winner as Earl Tsosie Jr. capped his world title in compelling fashion by riding all of his draws.
Tsosie battled Jacob Etsitty for the title and when the finals numbers were tallied Tsosie edged his close friend by a mere point.
In Sunday's final, he rode Cervi Rodeo Company stock "Burnt Bridges" for 75 points and finished the aggregate with 298 points.
Etsitty, meanwhile, got behind horse number "Q23" and turned in a 76-point effort, but that was not enough to overtake Tsosie in the average race.
The Whitecone, Ariz., cowboy said he had mixed emotions going into the finals since he was challenging his mentor, but after a short pep talk his Etsitty encouraged him to do his best.
"He is someone I look up to," Tsosie said Etsitty.
With 277 points, Mescalero Apache cowboy JR Chino finished in third place while Montana cowboy Brad Crawford nabbed four place honors by covering three horses with 193 points.
As one of the rodeo's most consisted winners, Kassidy Dennison collected four first place checks en route to winning the barrel racing title.
She won the average in whopping fashion as she covered four runs in 62.77 seconds. Second place finisher Charmayne Gene came in a distant second with an aggregate of 64.19 followed by Sonya Dodginghorse (65.07) and Brittany James (65.64).
In the saddle bronc, the title changed hand three times in Sunday's round as Clayton Hart was the first cowboy to ride all four of his draws.
Hart rode horse they call "Q15" for 62 points and gained the early advantage with 246 points.
But two riders later, Ace Long of Greasewood, Ariz., took over the lead in the average race with a 73-point effort on "Bear Track." That ride gave him a 280-point aggregate with one more rider to go.
That cowboy turned out to be Kane Kee and after riding Lucky Lady for 69 points he gained control of the average by amassing 291 points.
During his run, Kee said he was just trying to be consistent, but at the same time he wanted to have a little fun out there with his draws.
As for Justin Granger, he felt very fortunate about coming out on top in the bull riding event as he and former two-time IIFR world champion Spud Jones went toe-to-toe.
Entering the final round, Granger had a slight edge as he covered two bulls for 158 points while Jones had amassed157.
Both cowboys gave it their best effort in the final round to add to their tally, but they were both bucked off with Jones riding his draw "Hot n Dangerous" for roughly seven seconds while Granger lasted two jumps on "Valentine."
"I wanted to cover my last bull," Granger said. "It didn't happen, but I just did enough to pull it out."
In tie-down event, Allen Charley ran into some trouble as he got his piggin' string caught around the calf's neck on his dismount.
That cost him some time, but luckily for the Crownpoint, N.M. cowboy he had some time to play with as he tied his calf in 14.8 seconds and finished the average with a 54.4 aggregate.
With an aggregate of 62.2 seconds, Darrell Watson of Montana came in a distant second ahead of brothers Curtis Taypotat (74.1) and Sam Taypotat (45.8).
Mexican Springs, N.M. cowgirl Bailey Bates faced the same dilemma as Charley in the breakaway event.
Bates entered the final round with an eight second lead and when it was her time to compete that margin increased to 21 seconds.
But on her first attempt she got her rope tangled and when her curl came down she just caught the ear tips.
Luckily for her, the event allowed to loops and after she chased down her calf at the end of the arena she roped her final draw in 18.9 seconds.
"I just feel real blessed," Bates said, while adding that she took advantage of the two-loop rule.
With that final round accounted for, Bates finished the average race with a 32.0 aggregate, which was two seconds better than second place finisher Renee Tolino of Gallup.
Ft. Defiance, Ariz., cowgirl Serena Dahozy finished in third place by roping three calves in 8.7 seconds while Sheila Sells garnered fourth place honors with a 26.7 on three.
Alberta cowboy Brent Dodginghorse won the steer wrestling event with a 27.8 aggregate as he held off a late charge by Garrison Begay who finished the four-head average in 32.2 seconds.
Men's all-around cowboy Jesse Colliflower finished in third place with a 55.8 effort while Willis Begay III of Chinle dropped his final steer in 55.2 seconds and finished fourth in the average with a 76.3 aggregate.
The women's all-around went to Brittany Bird as garnered two checks each in both the breakaway and barrel racing events.
In the minor events, John Boyd Jr. roped four draws in 14.2 seconds and won the senior breakaway event.
Jarreth Hale won the junior barrels with a 64.94 aggregate while Ramon Curley rode three of his draws for 205 points and picked up the junior bull riding event.