CENTRAL POINT —
CENTRAL POINT —
Johanna Straw is not going to let multiple back fractures, strains and sprains keep her from living her dream of roping cows.
The 18-year-old Eagle Point resident was among hundreds of cowboys and cowgirls competing Saturday at the America Cowboy Team Roping Association (ACTRA) regional event.
The competition will continue for its third and final day today at the Jackson County Expo. Roping starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m. The event is free, though you'll have to shell out a few bucks for a cheeseburger and a cup of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
The riders are vying for a chance to compete in the 2013 ACTRA national finals next month in Reno. That event carries big payouts for the teams with the fastest cow-roping times.
Straw was a bit down on herself Saturday afternoon following an attempt to lasso a sprinting steer with her teammate.
Straw was tasked with roping the steer's head, but she miscalculated and did not lay out the proper amount of slack in her rope. She did end up roping the charging steer, just not the intended part of its anatomy.
"I caught the back legs, which I wasn't supposed to do," she said, laughing.
Meanwhile, the event pushed on at a brisk pace. The riders would no sooner rope a steer before another one was set loose from the gates to be chased down by another team.
The quick pace was necessary to get through several groups and skill levels. Everyone had their eye on cashing in with the top times.
Straw has been team roping for five years. She was shown the sport by her uncle, who took her under his wing when her father passed away.
She relishes the chance to beat the cowboys in what is primarily a male-dominated sport.
"It's always fun to beat the guys," she said.
There were plenty of cowgirls showing off their roping acumen. In the end, it's all about your skills in the saddle and ability to time the rope with the steer.
The teams are not awarded style points. The goal is to simply rope the steer in a handful of seconds.
Straw said a solid time is 7 seconds, but the best in the sport can lasso a charging steer in around 4.
The sport isn't without its dangers. Straw knows this all too well.
"I've broke, sprained and fractured my back doing this," she said. "But that's not going to stop me. This is what I live for."
Straw plans to major in agriculture business in college and hopes to own a ranch someday.
Until then, she will continue chasing down steers with her teammate and cashing in when she hits the right times.
"You have ups and downs, but you can win money doing this," she said. "I've won money in my last three events."
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org.