Trust in each other: Young Diné ropers face a stacked field
MESQUITE, New Mexico
With the new high school rodeo season in full swing, Myles Martinez is excited to see what unfolds.
Martinez, a Diné, threw in his two cents worth in discussing the number of quality team ropers in the New Mexico High School Rodeo Association.
“It’s pretty stacked,” the Del Norte High senior said following the Landmark High School Rodeo in Mesquite, New Mexico. “We have a lot of good ropers in our state.”
To back his claim, Martinez cited the results of last month’s National High School Finals Rodeo as the New Mexico contingent fared very well with three of the four teams making the short-round competition.
Of those three teams, two of them finished in the top four with Santa Fe cowboy Luis Mendiaz and Peralta, New Mexico, cowgirl Quincy Sullivan claiming the national title.
Martinez said there is going to be some fast marks posted this year but he’s looking to be consistent with new heeling partner, Laramie Martinez (no relation), for a shot at qualifying for nationals next summer.
Laramie Martinez, an incoming Piedra Vista freshman, concurred with Myles about the number of contenders.
“This was my first high school rodeo and it’s a whole new level than junior high,” said Laramie, a 14-year-old Diné. “There’s a lot of good ropers and for me it’s kind of a big step.”
At the two-day rodeo in Mesquite, the pair earned seven points each in the season standings. In the first round they posted a 13.44 run, which was 10th in the round.
In Sunday’s competition, they placed fifth with a 7.33 run.
“It was a lot tougher today,” Laramie said. “Everyone was a six or a seven so I knew I had to be quick. I knew my header is pretty quick and when he spun it I took my shot.”
Myles said the run they turned in on Sunday was sweet.
“That was real nice,” he said. “It felt like a practice pen run.”
Myles credited his horse, Gracho, for giving him the best opportunity for a seven-second run.
“He worked real well in the box,” the Edgewood, New Mexico, cowboy said of his 20-year-old gelding. “He was calm and he didn’t jump the barrier.”
Myles said he bought Gracho four years ago and so far he’s been a great investment.
“He took me to nationals two years ago so he’s been very good to me,” he said.
With it being his senior year, Myles is hoping to make a return trip to nationals, which is scheduled next summer in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“My goal this year is to catch every steer,” he said. “We really don’t have to be fast – we just have to be consistent.”
And although he has very little experience roping with his new partner, Myles feels that they are capable of making some noise.
“He’s a freshman but he has a lot of trust in me and I have a lot of trust in him,” he said of Laramie. “He likes the way I turn his steers and I feel like he can get them caught all the time so I think we have a shot.”
Though Laramie is young, the Bloomfield, New Mexico, cowboy has some big dreams.
“I want to make nationals, win a few rodeos and win nationals,” the PV High cowboy said. “I want to make my name for myself for next year. I want people to ask me to partner up with them. This year no one asked because I’m a freshman.”
Like his heading partner, Laramie said they have to keep catching to stay in contention.
“We’re still trying to figure each other out but if we stay consistent we’ll do OK,” he said.
Admittedly, Laramie wasn’t planning to high school rodeo this season but when he did Myles didn’t hesitate to ask him to rope with him.
“The reason why I trust Laramie is because he’s consistent,” Myles said. “He’s not going to try and throw at the corner. He’s going to try and ride his horse up and take three swings and watch the hop of the steer.”
Both cowboys do have national experience with Laramie earning his only qualification his seventh grade year in the junior high ranks.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Junior High Rodeo Finals didn’t take place this year. Laramie felt that he had a chance to qualify and, perhaps, win a national title.
“I thought it would be wide open,” he said. “I want to try and win one while I’m in high school.”
Myles, on the other hand, last qualified during his sophomore year with then-heeling partner Dakota Johnson in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
The 18-year-old cowboy said roping at nationals was a great experience.
“There was a lot of tough ropers out there, which made me want to rope tough,” Myles said.
“I was in complete in shock that I made it,” he continued. “It’s a fun experience because not a lot of people get that chance. I hope that we’ll get to experience that together.”