By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
Friends of 18-year-old Texico bullrider L.J. Jenkins will get to watch the erstwhile high schooler compete professionally this weekend in New Mexico. For those close to Jenkins, seeing him at the PBR Ty Murray Invitational is quite a leap from where the young man was just a couple of months ago.
Jenkins decided to turn pro over the summer after completing his junior year at Texico. With $26,000-plus in prize money, Jenkins is currently ranked 29th in the roster of PBR competitors for this season.
And that’s pretty good, considering one of Jenkins’ best rides landed him in an Oklahoma City intensive care unit — and the amount of time he had to lay off after that incident.
Jenkins was injured Jan. 29 when an 1,800-pound bull stomped him in the back a split-second after Jenkins completed the necessary eight seconds to score in the event.
“I was sitting with a bunch of famous bullriders’ wives and they were looking at me saying that I was quite calm,” said Sandy Bowers, Jenkins’ mother, who was at the event. “I was saying, ‘He’s going to get up, he’s fine. L.J. never gets hurt.’”
Sure enough, L.J. Jenkins did rise and walk out of the arena. But he didn’t get much further.
“They had asked me if I wanted to be carried out. I didn’t think it was that bad, so I walked out,” Jenkins recalls. “But I ended up collapsing on them back in the back.”
The next thing Jenkins remembered was laying on a table with intravenous tubes being inserted.
Jenkins suffered two broken ribs, a punctured lung and a bruised liver.
Swelling around the liver concerned doctors enough to put him into intensive care for a night and to put a physician on call in case the injury got worse.
“We were real fortunate that nothing (further) happened,” Bowers said. “L.J. took the full force. A lot of the bulls are real smart and, when the feel (their feet) touching something, they’ll come off of them. But not this one, he landed full force on L.J.’s back.”
Jenkins understands he’s in dangerous business looks back at his experience in Oklahoma.
“It was a little scary, but I knew I was in good hands because we had the best guys working on it,” Jenkins said. “I was just more mad that I was going to be out for six weeks.”
• What: The Ty Murray Invitational
• Where: Tingley Coliseum,Albuquerque
• When: 8 p.m. today, 6 p.m., Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
• On TV: OLN, 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday