AZTEC — Cami Reed surpassed her goals at the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo.
Reed, a sixth grade student at C.V. Koogler Middle School in Aztec, rode her horse Figit to a 10th-place finish in pole bending at Red Rocks Park in Gallup on Saturday in the final short round of the NJHSFR.
"My goal for this year was to make it to the short-go. After that, I just went out and tried to do my best," Reed said. "All of a sudden they called my name to get an award and I was just like, 'Whoa.'"
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.
Reed, 12, was hoping to finish in the top-20 after the first two rounds, which would qualify her for the final round. Reed easily qualified for the short round and had the ninth best time in the final round with a ride of 20.992 seconds.
Reed's average was 63.342, which was good for 10th overall in average. Reed also helped Team New Mexico finish third in the girls' all around scores.
She was the only competitor from San Juan County to qualify for this year's NJHSFR.
"They had three arenas going at once and there were almost 1,000 contestants there. It is so huge it is unbelievable," said Cami's mother Tami Reed. "It was amazing to take part in something like that and see how much competition there is in one place, and it was wonderful watching her teammates from New Mexico participate and do so well."
Reed competed against girls from all over the country as well as Australia and Canada.
"It was overwhelming for some of the things. It was so much fun, though," Cami Reed said.
Cami Reed was happy to spend the week with her mare Figit, who she calls her best friend. Being with Figit helped calm her nerves, as did the support of her family.
"I was a little bit nervous, but with (Figit) being as solid as she is and having my parents and friends, I felt better," Reed said.
Tami Reed was most impressed with her daughter's ability to handle the pressure.
"The most amazing thing to me was how she didn't let her nerves take over. She knew what her goal was, and I was so proud of her for staying focused and knowing what she wanted to accomplish. She rode her mare awesome and they did it together."
Cami Reed hopes to compete in some upcoming Little Britches Jackpot rodeos, and said she will spend the rest of her summer taking care of her pigs. She hasn't set the goals for next year too high, yet.
"Next year, I just want to have a good year and hope to make it back to nationals," Reed said.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.