Ralph Johnson rodeo offers top competition, big pay

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

GANADO, Ariz., May 31, 2012

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(Times photo - Paul Natonabah)

Earl Tsosie was the only qualified bareback rider with a score of 72 points May 27 during the RJ Memorial rodeo in Ganado, Ariz.

Y ou could see this coming from a mile away.

With a line up that resembled the who's who of team roping, one could view last Sunday's Ralph Johnson Memorial Rodeo as one of the best shows of the year.

And when the dust finally settled it was Aaron Tsiniginie and Victor Begay who rose to the occasion.

"There were some tough teams out there," Tsiniginie said. "I just did my hand and I tried not to be beat myself."

Sunday's list of all-stars included four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Derek Begay and up-and-coming talents such as Myles John and Chris Begay.

The depth chart also included the likes of Wes Dayzie, Marco Sells, Kelsey Phillips, Nelson Long and Rudy Yazzie - all icons in their own right.

But it was Tsiniginie and Begay who produced the best run of 5.4 seconds.

"I just had to get a good start and catch to win some money," Tsiniginie said, who split the $2,121 prize with his partner. "We had to be at least a 5.7 to win it and you know Victor did a good job of cleaning it up because our steer didn't handle very well."

The dynamic duo edged the team-roping combo of Chris Begay and OJ Williams for the title as the latter two slipped into second place with their 5.8 run.

Nonetheless, they both shared $1,755 while Pedro Maestas and Seth Hall split $1,389 for their third-place run of 6.2 seconds.

With a run of 6.4 seconds, Jeremiah Platero and Wacey Brady split the fourth-place prize of $1,023.

As for the all-around winner, Tyler Donald was the easy choice as he picked up a first-place finish in the tie-down event and the No. 10 team roping.

Donald tied with Felix Gilbert Jr. in the tie-down event and was awarded the buckle on a coin toss. Both ropers received $621 each.

Fort Defiance cowboy Roderick Tso came in next with a 10.2 run and picked up a $452 paycheck. John Boyd III netted $339 on his 10.6 run and finished one-tenth of second faster than Francis Begay, who was paid $226.

In the No. 10 team-roping event, Donald heeled for Austin Bahe as the pair shared the top prize of $1,621.

Bahe later teamed up with Eryon Cowboy and they finished in second place with a 7.8 run, ahead of Dion Mitchell and Justin Antone.

The women's all-around winner went to April Pablo, who turned in a 2.8-second run.

"I had a good start," said Pablo, who collected $661 for her efforts. "The score line was short but some of the other ropers were breaking out."

She did participate in the No. 10 roping, but she recorded a no time.

With a run of 2.9 seconds, Taniah Nez finished second to Pablo in the breakaway and pocketed $551.

In the barrel racing, Caren Lamb beat out a tough field and crossed the finish line in 17.57 seconds. Lamb netted $746 and narrowly beat out Tohatchi, N.M., barrel racer Devyn Dennison, who completed her run in 17.61 seconds.

Raynell Holgate came in next with a 17.77 run and finished ahead of Nizhoni McCray and AutumnRain Chee.

With a time of 17.89 seconds, Jareth Hale won the junior barrel-racing crown and was paid $455. Courtney Jenson won $273 on her second place run of 18.05 while Nizhoni McCray rounded out the money winners with an 18.44 run.

Earl Tsosie Jr. produced the top score of 72 points in the bareback event, which earned the Whitecone, Ariz., cowboy his second straight title.

Two weeks ago, Tsosie won the 9th Annual Eagle Ridge Rodeo in Cornfields, Ariz., with a 68-point score. Over the weekend he won $369 while riding the horse they call Mr. Que.

Ferland Tsosie and Jeremy Simpson both record 59-point rides and took home $184 each for second place.

In the bull riding, Justin Silversmith won the event with a 75-point ride on top of Tequila for $729. In a three-way tie for second place, Raynell Harvey, Archie Becenti Jr., and Tustin Daye were paid $486 each for their 74-point scores.

The junior bull-riding crown went to Ramon Curley as he rode Blood Brother for 71 points and pocketed $279. Bo Baldwin came in next with a 70-point ride ahead of Clay Wagner and Ky Farland.

Patrick Smith yielded $520 for his first place finish in the saddle-bronc event with a 77-point score, which was eight points better than Leander Thomas, who won $390 for his 69-point ride.

In the steer wrestling Ben Bates put together a solid run and won the event with a 4.7 run. The Mexican Springs, N.M., cowboy took home $836 and finished ahead of Chad Dixon.

Terry Zenkawick held off Brandon Bates for third place with a 5.4 clocking. Bates finished his run with a 5.5 run.

In the senior breakaway, Art Sells took home the top prize of $430 with a 3.2 run. Nipping at his heels were Ray Jim and Karl Dennison as the two ropers both produced 3.4 runs and were paid $268 each. Justin Tsosie Sr. picked up the fourth place prize of $107 with his 4.1 run he turned in.

All in all the Ralph Johnson Rodeo paid out a whopping $29,515.

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