N.M.'s breakaway ropers gear up for state, national finals

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

GRANTS, N.M., May 2, 2013

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The New Mexico Junior High School Rodeo Association is about to wrap up its ninth season and every year the top four contestants in each event gets to represent the state at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo.

And in those years the association has produced 12 national champions.

The most recent happened two years when then Crownpoint eighth-grader Avery Jodie won the boys' breakaway crown.

"I want to try and bring home the title like he did," said Jodie's older cousin Hadley Yazzie, of Brimhall, N.M.

With four rodeos to go, the Chuska Community School seventh-grader is on track to make nationals as he leads the breakaway field with 33 points, two more than Roberto Galaz.

At the Grants, N.M. rodeo over the weekend, Yazzie roped both of his draws and finished the average race in third place with a time of 3.56 seconds.

"I've been doing pretty good at catching all my calves," he said. "I missed one in Lovington (N.M.) but that hasn't hurt me."

Nonetheless he says it's too early to get relaxed since he had a good chance of making nationals last year but he ended up on the bubble in fifth place.

"I missed both of my calves at the last rodeo in Gallup," Yazzie said, while adding that last season's misfortune was a learning experience.

In Sunday's round, Shiprock breakaway roper Trevor Jim won the round with a blazing time of 2.95 seconds.

"I had to win it so to that I can stay in the top 10," Jim said.

Currently he is tied in seventh place in the season standings with 20 points.

"I need to try and catch all my calves to get points," Jim said when asked about his focus for the next four rodeos.

The Shiprock seventh grader said he's drawing on his brother's experience to help him reach to the top.

"I put a lot of trust on him," Jim said of his older brother Tee O' Brien, who captured the state breakaway title in 2010. "He tells me what to do and when to throw my loop."

Also on Sunday, Kyle Yellowhair recorded a 5.27 run in the boys' breakaway, which was good enough for eighth place.

In Saturday's round he finished in seventh place with a time of 4.74.

Other top finishers include Faith Holyan and Brent Jodie. Holyan won Saturday's girls breakaway round with a time of 3.51 seconds while Jodie teamed up with partner Blaine Garley as the duo won the team roping round on Sunday with a 7.02 run.

In the ribbon roping Jodie paired up with Kash Pablo of Crownpoint and placed second in Saturday's performance with a 9.0 run. On Sunday the pair recorded a 10.18 run, which was good enough for tenth place.

"I really did good on Saturday," Pablo said, adding that she placed seventh in the goat-tying event.

"I ran a 10.3 and that's probably my strongest event," the Crownpoint eighth grader said.

Pablo also competed in the barrels but did not earn any points. Holyan, on the other hand, turned in two solid runs and finished sixth on both days, with her fastest run coming on Saturday with a time of 17.78 seconds.

Farmington cowgirl Destinee Dale placed eighth in Sunday's round with a run of 18.049. Dale also produced a seventh place run of 22.338 in Saturday's pole bending event.

In the chute dogging, Rooster Yazzie of Coyote Canyon, N.M. finished in second place on Sunday with a run of 7.7, which was two places ahead of Jodie.

"It was a lot of fun," Yazzie said, who is currently ranked sixth in the chute dogging standings with 23 points.

"That's my best chance at making nationals," Yazzie said.

The Tohatchi Middle School seventh grader also competed in the calf roping and the ribbon-roping event. On Saturday he teamed up with Daniella Martinez in the latter event and placed sixth with a time of 9.36 while he earned fifth-place honors in the calf roping during Sunday's performance with a 16.56 effort.

From May 10 to 11, Gallup will host the next junior rodeo before the contestants will start thinking about the state finals in Lovington during the Memorial Day weekend later this month.

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