The buck starts here

Saturday, June 7, 2003

Like a lot of athletes, bull riders say they want to take on the best.

Before the East Perry County Rodeo concludes today in Altenburg, Mo., cowboys from across the country will get their crack at some of the top stock the region has to offer.

"There will definitely be some stock there that have lots of athletic bucking ability," stock contractor Mark Johnson said, whose Johnson Rodeo Company out of Jonesboro, Ark., provides the stock for the Perry County Community Rodeo.

For the bull riders entering the competition, the more the bulls buck the better their chances of winning. So when a bull rider gets the chance to conquer one of the top bulls, that's what it's all about.

"Most of the time I look for a pretty good bull that's going to spin," Demeko Tipton of Spencer, Okla., said. "They say if you spin you win."

"That's the kind they want," Johnson said. "They don't want the one that doesn't buck."

Even though each bull rider draws a bull at random, Johnson said some riders will follow his bulls from rodeo to rodeo.

"They get to know them, but of course I change them up and buy new ones," he said.

Matt Cissell, of Perryville, Mo., took time before his ride Friday night to look over the group of bulls. Cissell, who has competed in rodeos with Johnson's stock before, said he even recognized one of the bulls as a bull that broke his nose in a ride in Illinois.

"I'd still like to have him back though," Cissell said. "He's a real good bull."

While riders are not looking to get hurt, the aggressiveness of the bull counts for half of a bull rider's score.

"The more action the bull has, the better for you, and the better score you'll get," Tipton said.

Johnson said his stock has several bulls that have yet to be ridden the eight seconds it takes to complete a ride in a bull riding competition this year.

Three of Johnson's bulls in particular, Extreme Machine, Black Jack and Boflex, are among the difficult stock the cowboys will face.

Johnson said Extreme Machine, which his company has owned for two years now, has yet to be ridden.

"He's been out 62 times and never been ridden," he said.

Cissell said drawing a bull that has not been ridden is a golden opportunity for a bull rider.

"That way you can be the first to ride them," he said.

For a rider like Matt McGuire of Perry, Okla., who drew a bull that was a runner-up for bucker of the year last year, he tries to look on the positive side no matter what type of bull he draws.

"I guess every bull gets ridden at some point," McGuire said. "Bull riding is 99 percent mental, so you can't let something like that affect you."

be presented with.

With several strong competitors coming in from across the country, the bulls may have met their match.

"There are several talented cowboys and a lot of good, talented stock," Johnson said. "You take a quality cowboy and quality stock and you're in for a good ride."

Besides several world class bull riders that will be in competition tonight, there will be several former world champions performing as well. Paul Barns, a former world champion bull fighter and Cody Sosebee, the 2002 clown of the year, also will perform be performing tonight.

jjoffray@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 171

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