COLUMBIA — As she hears her name called, Lindsey Kraus, 16, charges into the ring on her horse, Boots. Dirt flies as Kraus and Boots tightly round the three red, white and blue barrels in a clover pattern. Every millisecond counts.
After rounding the last barrel, horse and rider bolt toward the finish line, and a judge signals the end of the run with a flick of an orange flag.
Where: Central Missouri Events Center, 5212 N. Oakland Gravel Road, Columbia
When: 7 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m Saturday.
Admission: $6 per night; children 5 and under free.
What: Competitions in barrel racing, team roping, pole bending, bull riding, calf roping, goat tying, breakaway roping, steer wrestling, bareback, and saddle bronc.
A complete schedule of events can be found on the Missouri High School Rodeo website.
This weekend, Kraus is competing in the Missouri High School Rodeo State Finals for the first time. She entered the barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and breakaway roping competitions.
The Missouri High School Rodeo State Finals are held at the Central Missouri Events Center, formally known as the Boone County Fairgrounds, for three consecutive days. The event ends Sunday with a church service and an awards ceremony.
Although she is new to the high school arena, Kraus also competes in the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association. The rodeo association is open to competitors of any age, so Lindsey sometimes competes against her older sister, Kaitlyn, and her parents.
Kraus has qualified for the rodeo association finals for three consecutive years in barrel racing. She and her family, who live in Pacific often attend several rodeos in one weekend.
"MRCA (Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association) is more competitive because of the number of people and the skill level," Kraus said.
Her mother, Chris Kraus, said the competitions help bring the family together.
"It makes it much more fun that we can all compete and do the same thing, although when we are competing against each other... it can get ugly," Chris Kraus said with a laugh. "Most of the time it's good."
Like many other contestants, Lindsey Kraus competed Friday morning in what's known as "the slack." Only a small number of participants compete in the rodeo Friday night to keep the rodeo from running late.
The Kraus family will then leave Columbia to compete in a Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association rodeo in Gerald and will return to Columbia to compete Saturday night.
"Lindsey isn't usually a really nervous child, but today she seemed nervous," Lindsey's mother, Chris Kraus said Thursday. Lindsey wants to go to nationals, so there's "a little more pressure," her mother said.
Following the state finals, the top four competitors in each event will attend the National High School Rodeo Finals in Rock Springs, Wyo.
Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.