Home World Lincoln-Way Central alum hits the bull-riding circuit

Lincoln-Way Central alum hits the bull-riding circuit


At 21 years old, Jake Morinec has competed in professional bull riding tournaments in nearly every state and against riders from the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and Australia.

He’s even working on his Portuguese to better communicate and build camaraderie with riders from Brazil.

The Mokena native is ranked 51st in the Unleash the Beast world standings among professional bull riders.

And recently, the Lincoln-Way Central High School graduate competed in the PBR World Finals in Texas.

“The World Finals is your Super Bowl of bull riding,” Morinec said. “You have your top bulls in the world against your top riders in the world.”

While he didn’t perform among the top competitors, it was his first year making it to the world finals and he plans to train hard, rise in the rankings and finish stronger next year.

Morinec, who now lives in Michigan, became interested in bull riding on family camping trips.

A western-themed campground in Michigan hosted rodeos on the weekends, and he tried riding sheep as a kid. At about age 12, he was too big to ride sheep and began to ride bulls instead.

“It intrigued me,” Morinec said.

Morinec had been active in mixed martial arts, but then switched his focus after learning how to ride bulls.

“I made the transition from wanting to be a professional fighter to a professional bull rider,” he said. “It just kind of took off from there. I kept dedicating myself to it and finding more and more opportunities and just trusting God’s timing on it. He opened a lot of doors for me, and now I’m working hard and trying to climb up the ladder.”

Jake Morinec, a Mokena native, is a professional bull rider(Courtesy of Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media)
Jake Morinec, a Mokena native, is a professional bull rider(Courtesy of Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media)

Morinec said he never realized how big bulls are until he first got on one.

“It was terrifying,” he said. “This is a lot scarier than I thought it was going to be. But I was in a little bit too deep. It was a little bit too late to bail out.”

Many bulls weigh between 1,600 and 1,700 pounds, though some can weigh more than a ton. They stand at 4½- to 5-feet tall, Morinec said.

Riding the majestic creature is awe-inspiring, he said.

“At first, it’s a wow factor riding a big, bucking bull,” Morinec said. “I always like to push my comfort zone.”

He said you can get on a powerful bull and ride it easily, but if you are an inch out of position it can be difficult. Bull riders have to stay on top of the bull for 8 seconds while being judged on their control and style. The bull is also judged on its athleticism and difficulty to ride.

To stay in shape, Morinec does a lot of weight training and mobility workouts, eats right and practices riding. Being bull-savvy is important to become comfortable and confident with the animals, he said.

“There’s definitely a lot of respect that you have to give them,” Morinec said.

The bulls that professional bull riders ride “are treated like royalty,” he said. They love to buck.

Morinec said there’s something special about the sport. He said he is thankful to be able to participate in a sport he loves while glorifying God.

“There’s really no other sport like this,” Morinec said. “You give it 110% and trust God’s timing. That’s when I’m riding at my best. I feel God put it on my heart to go after this and chase it.”

Michelle Mullins is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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