Cindy Wood didn’t walk across the stage during the 2007 Hickman High School graduation ceremony at Mizzou Arena. She was at a rodeo.
Instead of making the short trip to the MU campus that morning, she was making a 3 1/2-hour trip to Gallatin to compete.
“I really didn’t do that well,” Wood said, “but I’m still glad I went.”
This kind of dedication earned Wood a full scholarship to Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Okla.
Besides competing for the Rangers this fall, Wood has another opportunity. This weekend, she could become Missouri’s first female to advance to the National High School Rodeo finals July 24-30 in the team roping competition. For the second consecutive year, the NHSR finals will be held in Springfield, Ill.
To qualify, Wood needs to move up one spot in the team roping standings at the 2007 Missouri High School Rodeo State Finals at the Boone County Fairgrounds.
“That would be quite an accomplishment,” her mother Bondi Wood said. “But the journey is more important. It’s great to win a buckle (title), but it’s the journey that matters.”
In order to improve in the standings, Cindy Wood and her partner, Jake Johnson of Fayette, must successfully rope a steer in the shortest time. When the animal is released from the shoot, the team rides out on their horses. Wood will take the “header” side by lassoing the horns and/or neck and turning the steer to its left, while Johnson will take the “heeler” side by roping the animals’ hind legs. To do this, the duo musk work with each other and with the steer.
“If she misses, I’ll just holler to her to push the steer so we can try again,” Johnson said.
Wood and Johnson are now in fifth place in the team roping competition, 30 points out of the lead. For each round, 10 points are awarded to the top time; each place after that earns one less point.
The team has three possible chances to earn points this weekend. They had a performance in the first go Thursday, and they will be in the second go today. After that, the top 12 teams will return for the short go Saturday, with the top four advancing to nationals. All competitions begin at 7 p.m.
But Wood isn’t in complete control of how she does, or if she will advance. She said the animals determine some of the competition.
“It can depend on the draw and on the steer,” Wood said. “Faster steers are harder to rope, but we’ve practiced a lot, so it shouldn’t matter too much.”
Practice is what she will rely on this weekend. She trains and takes care of her competitive horses daily.
“Last year, I went to school in the morning and worked in the afternoon,” Wood said. “When I got home at 7, I would feed, rope off, and exercise them.”
In the fall, Wood will join her sister Maggie Wood on the rodeo team at NWOSU.