WINDOW ROCK, AZ Given the pressure building nature of
competing on the final day of the Navajo Nation Fair, the last thing
you want to do is abandon your mechanics.
For Odessa Yazzie and Autumnrain Chee they stuck with the fundamentals
and kept things simple, as they emerged as the average and Final
Four winners in their respective events at this year's fair.
Both cowgirls put together business-like performances in Sunday's
performance with Yazzie topping the breakaway field while Chee surfaced
as the barrel-racing champ.
"I'm not going to lie to you, it gets pretty nerve-wracking
out there," Chee said. "One simple mistake can cost you but I thought
that my horse ran a smart race. He had more speed and he was more
flexible today than he was the first two rounds."
That assessment was quite noticeable as the Cortez, Colo., cowgirl
was the only competitor to turn in two runs that were under the
18-second mark. She recorded a 17.73 run in the short round before
she ended her weeklong haul of $5,268.78 with a 17.82 run in the
Final Four, which added $2,000 to her bank account.
As for Yazzie, she grossed the most money as she pocketed a
whopping $6,178.57 with $2,000 coming from the showdown.
Needless to say, she had to work for it.
Going into Sunday's short-round performance, Yazzie had roped
two draws in 4.7 seconds and held a slight edge over Serena Dahozy
and Latasha Long as the latter two had a 5.6 and 6.3 aggregate entering
the final day.
As the third high call-back, Long ($1.653.57) went for it and
roped her calf in 3.8 seconds, which put her in a two-way tie with
Danille Lowman for the lead in the short round.
But in a ridiculous fashion, Dahozy ($2,544.64) took it a step
further and bettered that run with a sizzling time of 2.8 seconds.
The lead, however, switched hands again as Yazzie took a few
swings and roped her draw in 2.5 seconds, which earned her the first
place check of $800 in the short round as well as the title.
"The pressure was there but I didn't let it get to me," Yazzie
said. "I wasn't trying to get out fast but I just wanted to get
out and rope hard."