In rare company: Rough stock rider Wyatt Betony wins NNF men’s all-around
WINDOW ROCK – It’s happened before, but Tonalea, Arizona, cowboy Wyatt Betony put himself in rare company.
The 27-year-old rough stock rider captured the men’s all-around title Sunday afternoon at the 75th Annual Navajo Nation Fair.
Betony placed third in the average race in both the bareback and bull riding events to win the coveted title, as most all-around fair champions have come from the opposite side of the arena – the timed event cowboys.
There was no one at the fair office to verify this claim, but Betony is the first rough stock cowboy to win the men’s all-around title since the late Nelson Tsosie did it in the early to mid-2000s.
“I really didn’t pay attention to it,” he said. “I just did my job, and the chips fell where they fell.”
Betony said he had to work hard for this year’s crown as 2018 NNF all-around winner Hiyo Yazzie was also in contention.
“I think he did pretty good in the team roping and steer wrestling,” Betony said of Yazzie. “But apparently, I did a little better.”
In the average race, he rode 3-for-3 draws in the bareback event and finished with an aggregate of 219.50 points. He finished behind younger brother Evan Betony and Matthew Tuni.
Wyatt’s best score came in the short round as he rode Zumba, a Stace Smith Pro Rodeos product, for 76 points for first place.
“My draws got better throughout the week,” he said.
He covered 1-of-2 draws for third place in the bull riding in the average. He won the long go with an 83.5-point ride aboard Flintstone, a Rafter G Rodeo bull.
“I saw my bull last week at a pro rodeo in Socorro,” Wyatt said. “He was pretty nice, and he fit my style just right.”
He couldn’t quite cover Brimstone in the short round as he landed in the dirt before the eight-second whistle.
“I felt like I wasted my short round bull,” he said of the Rudy Vela bull. “I just fell short.”
Wyatt qualified for the final four bonus rounds with his top two finishes, drawing Tulsa Time (Rafter G) in the bareback and Cell Phone (Stace Smith) in the bull riding. Despite his best efforts, he got bucked off in both events.
“I let them slip away,” he said. “It happens sometimes, but I had a lot of fun.”
Bareback winner Evan Betony was a perfect 3-for-3 in the average race for an aggregate of 238 points, 10 points more than Tuni’s three-head scores.
Evan placed third in the first round with a 77-point ride and won the second round with an 88-point effort. In the short game, he rode The Joker (Stace Smith) for 70 points, which placed him third in the round.
“I’ve been chasing this for a while,” Evan said of his first NNF title. “This is a big rodeo, and you always want to be the champion here.”
The 24-year-old cowboy said winning the title was something he dreamed of, and he was happy to leave Window Rock with the Teskey’s Saddles awarded to all the event winners and all-around champions.
“It feels good to win this,” he said. “The saddles they gave out are really nice.”
In the bonus round, Evan posted a no score on 2 C.B. (Rafter G) as the event had two qualifiers that covered eight seconds.
Tuni, who finished with a 228 aggregate, rode Memory Maker (Rafter G) for 64 points, while Chinle cowboy Whystle Joe took home the winner-take-all $2,000 prize with a 77-point ride on Andy, another Rafter G product.
“We had a pretty good set of guys that qualified for the bonus round,” Joe said. “We all got nice horses, and for me, my horse was fast and snappy. I had to do all I could do to win it.”
Joe said he was grateful to have won the bonus as he didn’t fare as well in the average race as he placed fourth overall with 216 points.
“I didn’t win as much money placing fourth, but this $2,000 puts me up there,” he said. “At least I’m walking away with something.”
Creighton Curley successfully defended his 2022 crown by dominating the saddle bronc field.
Curley was a perfect 5-for-5 as he ended the fair with a mind-boggling 87-point ride on Black Betty (Rafter G) in the bonus round.
“I’ve seen that horse at pro rodeos, and he usually scores in the mid-80s, so I knew I had a chance to win it,” said the Beshbetoh, Arizona cowboy.
He beat Stade Riggs for the winner-take-all prize as the Tuba City cowboy scored a 77-point ride on Sundance (Rafter G).
As for winning his second consecutive crown, Curley said he wasn’t thinking about it.
“I came in here just wanting to get on some bucking horses and just have fun,” Curley said. “But I think it’s pretty cool to win it again. I mean, I just had to be consistent and do my job. My first two rounds, I rode colts, and the scores I got kind of reflected that.
“As we got into the short round and final four, the horses got better, and so did the scoring,” he added. “I felt like my horse today was there, and all I had to do was my part.”
Curley earned a check in each round as he amassed 302.50 points in the average race. Second-place finisher Shane Phillips of Houck, Arizona, rode 4-of-4 draws for 292 points. Riggs came in third with 209 points.
The bull riding crown went to an unlikely winner, with Page, Arizona, cowboy JB Colorado edging JaCauy Hale for the title.
The two cowboys went toe-to-toe, with Colorado posting a two-head aggregate of 147 points while Hale finished with 145.
“I didn’t expect to walk away with it,” Colorado said of his big win. “We had guys like JaCauy and all the riders that rode up. They did pretty good, and they had some sticky rides.
“In my mind, this is rowdy,” he added.
Colorado came into the short round in fifth place with a 74-point ride in the long go. He trailed all-around champion Wyatt Betony (83.5), Anderson Sells (80), Hale (79) and Odey Tom (78).
But in the final round, he scored a 73-point ride on Collusion (Rudy Vela) while Hale rode Blaze of Glory (Rudy Vela) for 66 points as the other long-go winners did not make the whistle.
“I was dead last, and I really didn’t think I had a shot,” Colorado said. “But you know, you just got to show what you’re made of.”
The 19-year-old cowboy made his NNF debut more eventful as he was the lone bull rider to make a qualified ride in the bonus round. He covered Tsunami (Stace Smith) for a 76-point score to collect the $2,000 prize.
“He was a fight, I ain’t going to lie,” Colorado said of Tsunami. “He was kind of yanking me down every time he kicked, but I just had to keep my chin down and keep track of him and not lose him. I had to keep moving my feet, too.”