PICKENS COUNTY - As Jay Miller grew up and got bigger, so did the animals he rode in rodeo competitions.
Last month, the 15-year-old Liberty High School student won the SC High School Rodeo Association state bull-riding championship.
Miller has been riding bulls since he was 12, but began riding sheep and calves when he was four.
"It's evolved into bulls," said Tracy Rampey, Miller's mother.
Miller enjoys "the winning" most about bull-riding.
"It's a good feeling," he said, smiling.
For those just starting out in bull-riding, Miller advises that they "practice as much as possible."
Miller's father, Harold Miller, is a champion bull-rider and bareback riding champ.
"We were always at rodeos," she said. "The first sheep he got on, he won $87. He was hooked."
The road to the championship hasn't been easy. In 2006, Miller broke his hand. Just last week, a bull stepped on his helmet and knocked him out during a competition in Powdersville.
"It cracked his helmet," Rampey said.
"I've got a picture of a bull throwing him 30 feet up in the air," she added. "His leg looked awful the next day."
Miller competes in the national competition in New Mexico July 20-27.
"I'm excited," he said. "I hope to do real good out there."
Anyone interested in sponsoring Miller and helping him get to nationals should contact Rampey at 843-1073.