Kayenta cowgirl repeats as breakaway champion

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

CHURCH ROCK, N.M., Aug. 14, 2014

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(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Sheila Sells slams on the brakes during the breakaway competition at Red Rock Park. Sells defended her Ceremonial crown by roping her draw in 2.96 seconds.

BOTTOM: Bull rider Sheridan Yazzie hangs onto W/A’s “Prime Time” on Saturday afternoon during the 93rd annual Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial open show rodeo at Red Rock Park in Church Rock, N.M. Yazzie placed third with a 71-point ride.


That was what Kayenta cowgirl Sheila Sells accomplished at this year’s 93rd annual Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial as she walked away the breakaway champion.

Sells won the event and pocketed $576 by roping her calf in 2.96 seconds in last Saturday’s afternoon performance at Red Rock Park.

She finished ahead of Nyera Yazzie and April Willie with Yazzie ($384) stopping the clock at 3.69 while Willie ($320) rounded out the money winners with a 12.17 run.

Sells said there was some pressure to repeat but she was happy to be given that opportunity since the Ceremonial rodeo was not initially scheduled to take place. That was until local rodeo promoter Dudley Byerley convinced the Ceremonial board to reconsider having the rodeo.

“I am so happy that they brought it back,” Sells said. “I won it here last year and even though there were a few ropers it was tough. Some of the younger ones are roping tough. They are taking their shots so I need to be on my game, too.” Admittedly, Sells felt that her time could have been better as she drew one of the top calves in the pen.

“It was good but it wasn’t my best,” Sells said. “I caught myself hesitating again but I made the best with what I had. I’ve been around rodeo for a long time and over time you get to know the calves well enough to see how they run.” She wasn’t the only contestant to use what they had during the two-day event.

In the calf roping, Benson Charley ($560) emerged as the frontrunner after Sunday’s performance with a 10.71 run and edged Kyle Dennison ($420) for the title. Dennison tied his calf in 11.10 seconds, ahead of Marvin Tolth (12.05) and Donovan Yazzie (13.65).

“I had a pretty good decent calf,” Charley said.

In addition to having a good draw, the Crownpoint cowboy credited his horse for doing 75 percent of the work in his run. “They help you flank them better, especially with the big calves,” he said. “That is where you win most of your money with flanking and tying.”

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