AZTEC — San Juan County is sending just one competitor to the 2013 National Junior High School Finals Rodeo, but Aztec's Cami Reed is hoping to give a good showing in Gallup over the next week.
Reed, 12, will compete in pole bending at the rodeo Sunday through June 29. The sixth-grader from C.V. Koogler Middle School is just hoping to reach the final "short go" round and be named one of the top 20 in the event among junior high athletes from all over the world.
"It is very exciting, especially since it is my first year in junior high," Cami said. "It finally set in (Wednesday) night that this is really happening. I don't really worry about anything. I just go out and do my best."
To reach the "short go," Cami will have to finish in the top 20 after the first two rounds. The final round will be held June 29.
Pole bending competitors race their horse through a series of six poles separated by 21 feet. Riders and their horses get a running start and are timed from when their horse's nose hits the first pole to when the horse's nose hits the front of the same pole on the way back through the poles for a second time.
Cami called her horse Figit her best friend.
"I got her last summer. I go down to the barn when we come home from school until dinner to be with her," Cami said.
Cami's mother, Tami Reed, said she was riding horses when she was pregnant with Cami. Cami first began being led around on horses before she was 2.
"She has been riding for 10 years now and started competing in her first rodeo when she was probably almost 4," said Tami Reed.
Tami Reed hopes her daughter can continue learning values throughout her rodeo career while taking care of her animals.
"She has learned a lot about being a good sportsman, and she has met a lot of nice people and new friends. She is learning the value of hard work, and that is paying off," Tami Reed said. "She rides every day after school and doesn't do any other sports. She has pigs, but, other than that, she doesn't do other sports during rodeo season. She puts in a lot of time."
Cami said her goal is to compete for a national championship by the time she is in eighth-grade. But for now, she said the focus this year is to make new friends.
"I hope I can meet new people from around the country and have friends for my whole life," Cami said. "I want to be able to make it again next year and keep getting better."
The National Junior High School Finals Rodeo awards more than $100,000 in scholarships each year and offers more than $75,000 in prize money.
The rodeo will be broadcast on NHSRA.org and on RFD-TV.
John Livingston covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.