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Bull riders take center stage in Clovis

Staff Writer

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Professional bull rider L.J. Jenkins has been riding as long as he can remember.

“I’ve been riding since I was a little boy,” said Jenkins, a Texico native who is currently 12th in the PBR world standings. “My dad did it and my brother did it, and I rode my first calf when I was a kid. I worked my way up from calves to steers to junior bulls and when I was in high school I did high school rodeo and I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Jenkins, 27, has been a pro rider for 9 years, has won eight events and never considered doing anything else but riding bulls. “I made the PBR world finals when I was a senior in high school, so I went with that and I was making more money than my teachers so I never thought of anything different,” he said.

Jenkins is in Clovis hosting the L.J. Jenkins Invitational as part of the BlueDEF Velocity Tour. He’s happy he can host an event so close to home.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “I grew up right around here in Texico and it’s neat to be able to hold this event and have it named after you. Its also the biggest event of the year on this tour. There’s not another event on this tour that has as much prize money. It’s gets the top guys on the circuit here,” Jenkins said while signing a kid’s hat.

The BlueDEF Tour travels to cities that the Built Ford Tough series do not travel to in order to give fans the experience of a live bull riding event and features riders such as Jay Miller, Tyler Harr and points leader Austin Malone.

“That’s the great thing about being here in Clovis,” Jenkins said. “There isn’t a PBR event around here, so people travel from all over to come to this event. “The fans have been great. There’s been good energy in the arena both nights.” Jenkins, who made his debut in 2005 and won the Built Ford Tough series in 2006, admits he’s nervous when he’s on a bull, but losing isn’t an option.

“When I’m on the bull before the gate opens I’m nervous and I’m scared, but I’m more afraid to lose,” he said. “I come to the events and I want to win every time. If I get on bulls at my house I don’t get nervous at all, but at competition I get nervous because I want to win.”

Although the riders face the danger of being on an angry bull, once the rider falls off the bull fighters get to work trying to distract the bull so the rider can get away. Bullfighter Frank Newsome, 40, has been a bullfighter for 22 years and plans to keep having bulls chase him for as along as he can.

“I feel really blessed that I’ve been able to go as long as I have and I still enjoy it and I still want to do it.” Newsome said. Newsome, who grew up around cattle, got into bull fighting when he was in high school. “I went to work for a guy in high school who was a bull rider and we used to take turns riding and saving each other when we fall off and I just like saving better. I like being on the ground in front of the bull and helping the riders, I just knew it was what I was going to do the rest of my life.” said Newsome, who is from Oklahoma.

Although Newsome has avoided life threatening injuries, he does have some war scars on his body and is happy to talk about them as a fighters career is full of broken bones and other injuries.

“I’ve had several serious injuries, and a lot of broken bones, but nothing too bad,” he said. It’s a rough deal and it takes some time to get to know what you’re doing, but broken bones and torn muscles are a part of the game.”