Erik Becenti ropes his steer while Hiyo Yazzie of Mesalands Community College trails. The team finished with a time of 7.5 seconds at the NMSU rodeo on March 31, 2019.

Published April 10, 2019

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Navajo Technical University’s men’s rodeo team has found momentum in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s (NIRA) Grand Canyon Region’s spring rodeo season.  Several of NTU’s rodeo athletes have positioned themselves for a late run at qualifying to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR).

After NTU placed 3rdat the New Mexico State University rodeo on March 31stin Las Crucas, NM, the men’s team sits in 5thplace behind Meslands Community College, Cochise College, New Mexico State University, and current leader, Central Arizona College. Steer wrestler Jared Pino is ranked 5thnationally as is team roping header Erik Becenti, who trails Central Arizona College’s John Henry Gaona by 10.5 points for 4thplace. NTU’s other ranked cowboys include team roping header Jay Becenti (12th) and Tyson Charley (10th).

“I have a lot of talented students on my team,” explained coach Nicole Pino, who has been at the helm of NTU’s rodeo team for the last several years. “I’m proud of them all.”

Environmental Science and Natural Resources major Jared Pino dismounts his horse while competing in the steer wrestling event. Pino finished 5that the NMSU event and currently sits 5thin the NIRA’s national standings.

At the NMSU rodeo, four out of NTU’s six rodeo athletes received points moving them up in the college rodeo standings. Erik Becenti and Jared Pino each placed 5that the event, as they both chipped in 69 points each to NTU’s team standings. Pino pinned his steer with a time of 18.9 seconds, and Becenti turned in a time of 7.5 seconds with his roping partner Hiyo Yazzie of Mesalands Community College. Contributing most to NTU’s 390-point team score was the tandem of Jay Becenti and Tyson Charley, who placed 2ndin the team roping event with a run of 6.6 seconds.

“We are a small team, but we can be fierce,” stated Coach Pino, who expressed confidence in her team in closing out the rodeo season on a high note.

Header Jay Becenti turns his steer as healer Tyson Charley looks to rope the hind legs. The team finished with a run of 6.6 seconds, placing 2ndat the NMSU rodeo in Las Cruces, NM.

The final rodeo of the 2018-2019 season will be the Grand Canyon Regional Rodeo, April 19-20thin Socorro, NM. The top three finishers in the year-end standings qualify for the CNFR, which will take place in June in Casper, WY. For more information about NTU’s rodeo team, please contact coach Nicole Pino at

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