Nunez believes in mind over talent, in contention for All-Around Cowgirl

Published 8:52 am Friday, May 31, 2024

Bell City cowgirl Ava Nunez has the points edge going in the Louisiana High School Finals Rodeo this week but says she wants to have the mental edge too as she seeks to win her first state All-Around Cowgirl title.

“This year I have definitely improved my mental game the most and just realized that it is God’s plan and not mine,” Nunez said. “No matter what happens, I love to rodeo. That is why I love the sport. It is definitely more of a mental game that has changed this year.”

Before the first go-round started Thursday, Nunez led the rest of the field by more than 40 points, but her main competition is the 2023 All-Around Cowgirl Rylee Jo Maryman.

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“My biggest focus is my mind-set,” Nunez said. “I believe that is the key to success, not your abilities but your mind-set because someone can have the most ability and their mind can hold them back from so many things.

“So I have working on just meditating and making sure my mind is right for this week. I want to make sure I truly have nothing but fun, not worry about points and ride my horse.”

In the first go-round Thursday, Nunez placed second in pole bending (20.656 seconds), fifth in barrel racing (15.427) and ninth in breakaway roping (12.29). Maryman was able to make up some ground, cutting Nunez’s lead from 41.5 points to 37.1, Thursday with a first-place finish in barrel riding (15.012) and eighth in goat tying (9.28)

“It is going good,” Nunez said. “I have been trying to prepare for the past month just riding my horses every day.

“I am very blessed to be coming in in the lead. It is a real relief.”

Maryman, a close friend of Nunez, ran away with the title last year with 245.6 points, while Nunez was fifth with 131.4.

“We have traveled together,” Nunez said. “In rodeo we are family, so we all cheer each other on.

“It is not competition, we are a team. I will be just as happy for her because she is so deserving as well as I am.”

Nunez’s top event is barrel racing where she owns the lead with 87.8 points with Maryman in second at 80.

“Barrels is the event that I am most confident in,” Nunez said. “Me and my horse (Deuce) are definitely the strongest right now.

“It has definitely been a work in progress,” she said. “I got him two years ago and we learn each other every day.”