Sometimes, rodeo is a sport decided by flashes, where the time it takes you to read, “first place,” is far more time than the margin of victory for first place.
Sometimes, not so much.
The contrasts were there at the New Mexico High School Finals Rodeo, Saturday night at the Curry County Events Center. While breakaway roping was one Nicole Sweazea run removed from a 2.91-2.92-2.93 finish for the top three places, steer wrestling was pinned down halfway through by a sophomore who put up the best run of his young life.
The top four finishers in each event earn a spot in the National High School Finals Rodeo, held July 17-23 in Gillette, Wyo.
But since points are collected throughout the year, the state finals can have anywhere from no impact on a berth to being the necessary point where one high schooler passes another.
For Jake Trujillo, a sophomore out of Los Alamos, he knew he wasn’t getting passed. After posting a time of 3.98 seconds on a steer wrestling run that seemed almost choreographed with the steer, Trujillo threw a fist pump to match the explosion from the crowd.
All parties knew that was the winning run. Four more competitors still had to go, but the congratulations began well before his victory lap.
“I like that feeling,” said Trujillo, who said it was easily his fastest steer wrestling time. “I knew I had to have a good run. It’s a good feeling when you can do that.”
Trujillo is getting ready for his second finals, while Sweazea (pronounced“SWAY-zee”) was hoping for her first.
Her run of 2.5 seconds in the breakaway set up an easy victory, and prevented the closest of 1-2-3 finishes.
Sweazea was well ahead of Shelby Montano (2.91), who was barely ahead of Samantha Martinez (2.92) and Betty Pack (2.93).
“You’re fighting against the clock; everybody’s fighting to be the fastest,” Sweazea said. “A faster calf is (the biggest factor), really.”