Morris teen heads to National Bull Rodeo Show on July 17 – Shaw Local

Minooka – Dominic Dubberstine-Ellerbrock was picked up, turned over and stomped on – but overall he doesn’t mind. This is the game he chose.

It’s all part of riding bulls and competing in high school rodeos, including now earning a spot on the Illinois National High School rodeo team, quite a feat for a 17-year-old who just started the sport 18 months ago.

“I haven’t been seriously injured yet, knock on wood,” Dubberstine-Ellerbrock said. “I’ve been stepped on a few times and missed a rodeo or two.”

Dubberstine-Ellerbrock of Morris, a junior at Minooka Community High School, will compete in the 74th Annual National High School Finals Rodeo Bull Riding and Light Rifle competition July 17-23 in Gillette, Wyoming. The sanction group sponsors 1,800 events and awards $1.9 million in scholarships.

Eventually, great young bull riders could hope to become the next JB Mauney, the kid from North Carolina who earned $7,419,474.90 riding bulls on the pro circuit.

Despite the vagaries of the sport, Dubberstine-Ellerbrock said his mother, Candice Dubberstine-Rogel, and stepfather, Joe Rogel, are fully supportive of him. Besides the chance to win a national title, members of the National High School Rodeo Association can also win scholarships, the association’s website says.

But if bull riding seems dangerous to the public, that’s because it is. According to a study published in the International SportMed Journal in 2007, bull riding had an injury rate “1.56 times higher than amateur boxing, 1.75 times higher than semi-professional rugby, 10.3 times higher than American football and 13.3 times higher than ice hockey “.

Another study published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine in 2009 analyzed 10 years of injury in the high school rodeo. The study found that most injuries (40.9%) occurred when the rider was dismounting or “being chased from the animal.” The most frequent injuries were “bruises, sprains and strains” and the most injured body parts were the head and shoulders.

Dubberstine-Ellerbrock seems to have the physical and psychological credentials. He played high school football as a 140-pound linebacker. According to the professional rodeo association, the best bull riding professionals are typically 5 feet 8 inches tall and weigh between 130 and 150 pounds, lithe, yet strong to stay on board.

And since the dangers of the bull are 10.3 times greater than American football, Candice Dubberstine-Rogel has also seen Dominic play football.

Moreover, Dominic Dubberstine-Ellerbrock hasn’t downplayed the risks of the sport.

“I would say it’s quite dangerous,” he said. “If you fall, the bull will chase you, crush you and trample you.”

Dubberstine-Ellerbrock said he was introduced to rodeo after friends invited him to ride horses in their barn, which he loved. They then took him to a few rodeos, he said.

” I liked ; so I wanted to try it,” Dubberstine-Ellerbrock said.

According to Dominic, his mother agreed that he could try the sport if he found a place to practice.

“I said, ‘OK,'” Dubberstine-Ellerbrock said. “A year later, I still do. And she’s been with me every step of the way, with my stepfather.

Dominic said he found a place to practice – Rugged Cross Cattle Company in Grand Ridge. Its Facebook page says the company is helping develop bull riding as a sport by providing a place to learn and practice for beginners and veterans alike.

“You get on smaller bulls and progress,” Dominic said. “When you get to a certain point, they’ll [owners of Rugged Cross Cattle Company] help you get into rodeos if you want. Some people like to ride a bull just to say they’ve done it. Most people do it to make money and grow, just like in any sport. Start small and grow with it.

To get that “muscle memory” of learning to ride a bull, Dubberstine-Ellerbrock said he also trains on a drop barrel: basically a 55-gallon drum on a big arm that goes up and down.

The goal, once a rider is actually on that bull, is to “stay for eight seconds,” he said. But that’s easier said than done. A lot can go wrong in that small space of eight ticks, Dubberstine-Ellerbrock said.

“You can’t predict what the bull is going to do,” Dubberstine-Ellerbrock said. “So you just move with him.”

Mom and stepdad said they attended every event and were proud of what Dubberstine-Ellerbrock has accomplished in such a short time. Even Dubberstine-Ellerbrock said he was surprised to be heading to national competition this year.

If bull riding is so dangerous, why does he like it?

“The challenge,” said Dominic. “The adrenaline rush.”

Dubberstine-Ellerbrock said he would like to ride horses in the future. But for now, he’s sticking to bull riding.

“Also, horses are quite expensive,” Dominic said.

Clyde P. Johnson