By Keith Ryan Cartwright
“Keep it basic.”
Those where the three words Alex McWilliams told himself Friday night in the pouring rain. He said again it again Saturday night. As a matter of fact, he reminds himself of it every single time he competes at one of Shorty Gorham’s American Freestyle Bullfighting events.
“I just stuck to the basics,” McWilliams said, “fought my bull and it worked out.”
McWilliams won this weekend’s AFB event in Deadwood, South Dakota.
It’s the second time in as many AFB events as he’s entered that McWilliams, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the AFB world standings, has went home the winner. He competed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Deadwood, but was not in Granbury, Texas.
Saturday night he earned 90.5 points for the win in a match up with his travel partner Colt Carlisle.
McWilliams and Carlisle had outscored Cade Gibson and Sage Seay a night earlier to advance to Saturday night’s final two-man round at the Deadwood Sports Complex.
“I feel amazing,” McWilliams said. “It was a good bullfight, everyone had fun and thank the Lord we all came out safely.”
The weather, which had been nice an hour prior to the start of the first round, on Friday night, took a turn for the worse. The rain and standing water made the outdoor arena muddy and after bucking 40 bulls for the PBR event the ground “was worked up.”
Carlisle still managed to jump his bull, a move that earned him an opportunity to fight again Saturday.
Coming off a winning effort at The Beast Pit in Albuquerque did not change McWilliams’ approach in Deadwood any more than the weather.
“It was pretty much a mud puddle out there that first night,” admitted McWilliams, who added. “I try not to focus on the conditions because you can’t control that.”
In fact, much like keeping it basic, he was singularly focused on beating his bull and letting the scores take care of themselves.
“Do what you know how to do,” McWilliams said.
Unfortunately, Carlisle’s bull caught him on the hip and then Carlisle got caught up in the mud and was not able to finish his bullfight on Saturday.
“I didn’t want to just survive,” said McWilliams, “I wasn’t going to change the way I fought just to get a score. I wanted to make myself feel like I earned it.”
In spite of his success, McWilliams said he is putting both wins behind him.
Tomorrow is a new day and he’s looking forward to doing whatever it takes to become a better bullfighter.
McWilliams, his fiancé and Carlisle made the 18-hour drive back down to Texas and both bullfighters plan to be in the gym Monday morning preparing for their next AFB events, which they hope will be either Mandan, North Dakota, or Giddings, Texas, over the Fourth of July holiday.
“I don’t dwell on the things of the past,” said McWilliams, who does not allow good or bad outcomes impact his approach for future events. “Just make like it’s your first day fighting bulls and keep it simple.”
Seems simple enough.