Bull-riding brothers look for wins at home

Friday, February 14, 2003

Today's 15th Annual Show Me Center Championship Rodeo will give a pair of brothers a chance to compete against some of the nation's top cowboys.

Best of all, they'll still be just a short drive from home.

Curtis and Jason Griffin of Advance, Mo., have been competing in rodeos for, as they say, about as long as they could walk. Curtis and Jason's parents own Rock Hills Rodeo Company, which allowed them to hone their skills from an early age.

Although Jason and Curtis have grown up and gone separate ways, the rodeo lifestyle has not left their system. For Jason, 24, rodeoing is a way of life.

"I've done it for a long time, whether it's competing or putting on rodeos," Jason Griffin said. "It's just a job to me. I've done it my whole life."

They'll add to their experience today when the event kicks off at 8 p.m. at the Show Me Center. Doors open at 7 p.m. Events conclude Sunday.

Jason began competing in 1988 and has competed in many Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association events.

"I went hard until a couple of years ago when I got hurt," Jason said.

For now Jason spends much of his time shoeing and breaking horses on his farm in Advance. Jason has more than 120 acres of land and is proud he's never had to get a so-called day job.

"I've never had a clock-in job in my life," he said.

Curtis, 20, has taken his rodeo skills to Martin, Tenn., attending the University of Tennessee-Martin on a rodeo scholarship. And so far, Curtis is living up to his scholarship, leading the nation in the collegiate all-around, bull riding and steer wrestling standings.

Curtis said he hopes rodeo will provide him a living for years to come, but if nothing else he's been able to use his rodeo skills to get an education.

"It got me into college, and that's a big deal," he said.

Jason and Curtis will put their skills on display tonight when the bull- riding competition begins. And despite its quick nature, since most rides lasting little more than eight seconds, bull riding is among the most high-profile of the events at the Show Me Center this weekend.

Curtis, who tied for first in the bull riding competition at last year's Show Me Center Championship Rodeo, said riding a bull is much like riding a bike.

"I've done it so much and so many years now, a lot of times when it's happening you don't even think about it," he said.

Jason said the key is to have a the right frame of mind.

"Bull riding is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical," he said. "If you go hard at it, and know it's a job, it is not a big deal."

Both Curtis and Jason will face a tough task since Cord McCoy, last year's bull-riding world champion, is among the pre-entries. But neither of the brothers sees it as a daunting task.

"For me and my younger brother, it just comes so natural for us," Jason said.

jjoffray@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 171

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