by Jim Bainbridge | Mar 01, 2015
By Justin Shaw/for prorodeo.com
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Steer roper Neal Wood wasn’t planning on hitting the rodeo road this season. Those plans changed on Sunday.
The 40-year-old from Needville, Texas, picked up the biggest win of his 12-year PRCA career when he took the average title at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo steer roping with a time of 33.7 seconds on three head.
“This is huge; San Antonio is our biggest rodeo for steer roping all year and this is such a great accomplishment,” a stunned Wood said moments after his win. “I’m looking at this buckle, but I really can’t believe I just won it.”
The buckle wasn’t the only part of Wood’s Sunday afternoon that had him all smiles. He earned a total of $30,707 in a span of five hours, the most of any contestant in this $1.48 million rodeo.
He set the tone early, winning the first round with a time of 10.3 seconds. He then split third in the second round at 10.8 seconds, which put him into the driver’s seat heading into the final round.
Wood made a clean run in the finals, roping and tying his steer in 12.6 seconds. He was so dominant in the first two rounds that he only needed to be faster than 17 seconds to win the average on his last run.
“Being able to come here and win this rodeo by four seconds really does give me a confidence boost and make me believe that I can still be successful steer roping,” said Wood, who hadn’t won a rodeo since 2010.
“It’s funny, because when my buddies asked me the last few months if I would rodeo this year I told them that I wasn’t, but I had to go to San Antonio. They joked that I would probably win a bunch of money here and then have to go; obviously, they were right, and now I have to go.”
Wood isn’t a stranger to steer roping success. He qualified for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping in 2006-07, and again in 2009.
Shifting priorities in recent years have kept him from rodeoing full time.
“I’ve slowed down a lot with my rodeoing in recent years, and I’ve really been focused on taking my (12-year-old) son, Slade, to junior rodeos,” Wood said. “I’m turning calves and steers out for him to practice and helping him get better. This week before I came to San Antonio, the roles were reversed and he was turning steers out for me to practice on so I could brush up on my form.”
Wood says the key to staying calm while picking up such a huge win was simple.
“I didn’t really put any pressure on myself coming here, because I didn’t expect much, and certainly wasn’t expecting a big win like this,” he said. “I guess sometimes when you have that mindset, you win.”
The 2014 San Antonio champion Cody Lee finished second in the average with a time of 38.8 seconds on three head, earning a total of $16,816. Vin Fisher Jr. was third in the average (39.1), and totaled $14,074.
Courtesy of PRCA