7 Natives qualify for national high school finals rodeo

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

PAYSON, Ariz., June 19, 2014

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(Times photos - Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Saddle bronc rider Jay Joaquin celebrates his ride after making it to eight seconds at the Arizona High School Rodeo Association state finals  in Payson, Ariz.

BOTTOM: Goat-tying competitor Aiesha Curley gets ready to flank her goat on Saturday in Payson, Ariz.  Curley earned her second state crown and earned another trip to nationals.

For the last two years, Aiesha Curley has mastered the art of goat tying.

Last year the Tohatchi, N.M. cowgirl was the year-end champion in the Arizona High School Rodeo Association, which qualified her for nationals.

Despite a hiccup during the offseason, Curley showed why she is again one of top goat ropers entering next month’s National High School Finals Rodeo as she repeated as the state champion.

While competing at a junior rodeo in Dilkon, Ariz., last November, the recent Gallup High graduate broke two metacarpal bones in her right hand, which put her on the sideline for a couple of months. 

“I was just focused on qualifying for nationals,” Curley said at last weekend’s state finals in Payson, Ariz. “I was trying to be positive and I just wanted to make a smooth run.”

Curley was one of seven Natives that earned their ticket to nationals, which is scheduled for July 13-19 at the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs, Wyo.

To qualify, each contestant had to finish in top four in their respective event.

The other local contingents that will represent the state of Arizona include local bull riders Jay Joaquin, Adriano Bedonie, Clay Wagner and Wyatt Nez. In the bareback event, Wyatt Betoney and Riadal Nelson also earned nationals bids.

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