17-year-old beats the pros, wins all-around

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
Hiyo Yazzie of Brimhall, New Mexico wrestles a steer down at the 72nd Annual Navajo Nation Fair. Yazzie captured three crowns at the conclusion of the short round performance on Sunday afternoon, winning the steer-wrestling, tie-down roping and the men’s all-around.


At just 17 years old and four months out of high school, Hiyo Yazzie turned in a performance for the ages at the 72nd Annual Navajo Nation Fair rodeo.

With plenty of wolves in the field, the unassuming teenager captured three titles at the conclusion of Sunday’s short-round performance at the Dean C. Jackson Memorial Arena.

The Brimhall, New Mexico, cowboy won the aggregate races in both the steer-wrestling and tie-down events. Those two titles helped him earn the men’s all-around title at the fair.

“I just wanted to play it smart,” said Yazzie, who started classes at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, New Mexico. “I really didn’t think about winning any of the titles before the fair. All I wanted to do was catch all of my calves and steers.”

All told, Yazzie pocketed $13,521.67, which included a $5,000 payoff for winning the all-around title.

“This is pretty nice. I really can’t explain how I feel about it right now,” he said. “I just have to remember all the people that were there, teaching me the ropes. I want to thank my dad’s cheii, James Begay Sr., for starting a tradition.”

In the steer-wrestling event, Yazzie moved up two spots in the average race by turning in a 4.0 run in the short round.

“I was a little bit nervous,” Yazzie admitted. “I drew a good steer so I knew I had to use him and not mess up. I knew that the steer was going to do his part so I had to mine.”

That second-place run was just enough to edge Farmington cowboy Samson Valentino for the title. Yazzie finished the three-head average in 16.7 seconds with Valentino nipping at his heels with a 16.8 aggregate.

Going into the short round, Valentino led the race by a mere ninth-tenths of a second over Benny Yazzie Jr. while Hiyo Yazzie was 1.2 seconds back.

Queen Creek, Arizona cowboy Chuck Dixon won the short round with a 3.8 run with Hiyo taking second and Sampson placing third with a 5.3 run.

In the earlier rounds, Matt Jodie won the opening round with a 4.5 run and in the second his dad, Sheridan Jodie, posted a rather quick time of 3.8 seconds.

In the Final Four showdown, Mexican Springs, New Mexico, cowboy Michael Bates set the pace with a 4.3 run as the gunner. Hiyo came in next with a 4.9 effort while Benny Yazzie Jr. and Valentino turned in identical 5.8 runs.

“I knew I had to make a good run and get a flat fall because there were three other good bulldoggers that competed after me,” said Bates, who was grateful that he made the cut to compete in Final Four round as the last competitor to get in.

This was Bates’ second Final Four win but admittedly he wasn’t sure if his time was going to hold.

“I really didn’t know if it was because Hiyo was behind me,” he said. “He’s been hot lately and he’s been bulldogging really well.”

For winning the Final Four round, Bates collected an additional $2,000.

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Categories: Rodeo

About Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at qjodie@navajotimes.com