COLUMBUS – It’s been roughly two years since Jeffrey Wheelock broke his back bull riding, but that hasn’t stopped him from getting in the ring with the 1 ton animals.
Wheelock, a Senior at Scotus CC, says after breaking his back, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to walk again. Let alone get back in the ring, competing in a sport and being a part of a culture he loves.
“I was 16 at the time, and I said I can’t just quit. This is my life, and I’ve done everything I could to get here. So I was out for a year or so, out of rodeo, and wrestling, and all my other sports. That last summer I was like, how about bull fighting dad? And he said yeah, let’s go to Texas and fight some bulls, and that was the first time I went there in Belton,” says Wheelock.
The first time he entered the ring with a bull last summer, was an intense experience he’ll never forget, said Wheelock.
“When you think about it, you get so nervous, and it takes forever to say ‘okay, release this bull’. Because what’s it’s like is going against a half ton pickup. It’s you or the bull that’s going to win,” says Wheelock.
Rob Smets and Miles Hare trained Jeffrey as he worked to perfect the bullfighting art. Hare is a native of Gordon, NE, says Wheelock.
Since then, Wheelock’s career in bullfighting has only become more and more promising.
Wheelock recently returned to Texas, competing in a 3-day bullfighting competition at Professional PBR Bullfighter Shorty Gorham’s Lights Out Ranch. Wheelock didn’t go in with high expectations, but he came home with $600, a gold belt buckle, and the title of champion.
The competition involved freestyle bullfighting, but Wheelock also spends his weekends protecting cowboys during bull riding competitions.
“It takes awhile to learn how to freestyle, because it’s so intense, and we got so much adrenaline going through it, but what I do is practice every single day. Whether I’m in school or outside of school, I’m practicing my fakes, and whatever else I have to do to get better,” says Wheelock.
You can catch Wheelock in action for yourself this weekend, at Ag Park, during the Ultimate Bull Riding Competition that begins at 7 p.m. on Friday.
You can learn more about bullfighting in a short video from PBR, by clicking here.