High schoolers across Missouri gave up their weekends to compete in rodeos throughout the school year.
The athletes travelled to 16 different locations across the state to compete in 32 rodeos throughout the Missouri High School Rodeo season in order to qualify for the state finals.
From Thursday through Saturday high school cowboys and cowgirls from across the state will be competing at Boone County Fairgrounds in the 2007 Joe Machens Toyota Missouri High School Rodeo State Finals.
Hickman High School Senior Cindy Wood, 18, will be one of the many athletes competing at the state finals this week. Wood, who has been going to rodeos since the age of seven, said that it was actually her older sister, Maggie Wood, who got her initially interested in rodeo.
“She taught me everything,” she said. Wood credits good horses and the support of her parents along with the desire to beat her sister in rodeo as reasons for keeping her competing after 11 years of attending rodeos.
A part-time employee and full-time student, Wood admits that at times it was difficult to find time to practice, travel to competitions and hang out with her friends on the weekends. “You have to set your goals,” said Wood.
She chose to focus on practicing and competing on the weekends instead of spending time with her friends, which she says was a sacrifice she was willing to make.
“It’s pretty much my life,” said Wood, “It’s what I work for.”
Wood will be joining her older sister at Northwestern Oklahoma State this fall on a full-ride scholarship for her achievements in rodeo. Wood will be competing in the breakaways and team roping at the finals. She said she looks forward to the crowds, the contestants and the competition.
Fayette High School Junior Jake Johnson, 17, will also be competing at the state finals later this week. Johnson, who has been competing for only five year said that his father, who also competed in rodeo events, was the biggest influence on him for competing in rodeo. A member of his high school football team, Johnson would compete in football games on Fridays, leave the game and then drive to wherever the rodeo was being held that weekend.
“You get really tired,” said Johnson, “It’s just all the time.”
Johnson hopes to continue to compete through the rest of high school then onto college and perhaps even on a professional level of competition.
The competition, and the fact that all his friends also compete in rodeo, is the reason that Johnson, who will be in his third state finals, continues to compete.
“It means a lot to me,” said Johnson.
He will be competing in the steer wrestling, calf roping and team roping this week at the state finals.
The competitors must be in grades 9-12 and a member of both the MHSR as well as the National High School Rodeo Association.
In order to be eligible for the state finals this year each competitor must earn at least one point in their event throughout the season. Points are awarded and distributed to competitors that place in the top ten in their event. Those who place first in the event earn ten points and each place afterwards, earn one less point.
The events begin this Thursday and will continue through Friday in the indoor arena at the fairgrounds at 7 pm. Events throughout the week include: goat tying, barrel racing, bull riding and calf roping. The entrance fee is only $5 for adults and children five and under are free.