BY KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
This coming weekend, Alex McWilliams and Tristan Seargeant will be more than 2,100 miles apart. McWilliams will be in Nashville, while Seargeant is in Eureka, Montana.
Both will be fighting bulls at a pair of AFB events.
Perhaps, more importantly, the two freestyle bullfighters are separated by only 85 points in the world standings for Shorty Gorham’s American Freestyle Bullfighting.
“I feel pretty good,” said Seargeant, when asked how it feels to be within an event win of becoming the No. 1 ranked bullfighter in the world.
But the cowboy from Mineral Wells, Texas, tempered his reaction.
“There’s still a lot of game to be played,” he added.
McWilliams will compete against Chance Pruitt and Dekevis Jordan in Nashville, as part of the elite televised PBR event, while Seargeant will be in the Eureka draw along with Tyler Norton and Trent King.
McWilliams, who has been atop the standings for much of the season, enters the Nashville event with 1,075 points. Seargeant is second with 990 points.
Dylan Idleman, Sage Seay and defending World Champion Cade Gibson round out the Top 5 with Maxime Turgeon, Richard Wayne Ratley, Andres Gonzalez, JF Roch and Knox Dunn slotted in the next five positions of the Top 10.
“It really all just comes down to how we perform,” Seargeant said. “It’s a mind game as much as it is a physical game. If you’re not in your right mind when you step in the arena, things can go downhill in a hurry.”
That is precisely why Seargeant said it’s unhealthy to get caught up in the standings.
“I promise you, when I’m standing in the middle of the arena, I’m not worried about if I’m chasing Alex McWilliams in the world standings,” Seargeant said. “I’m worried about the bull that’s coming out of the chute and how I’m going to handle him.
“That’s the mental part.”
Unlike other athletes, freestyle bullfighters have to be mental prepared every single time they step into the arena to compartmentalize the fact they are competing in the most dangers dance on dirt.
It is not a matter if they are going to get hooked.
It is a matter of when and how bad.
“It’s going to happen,” Seargeant said, “so you must do your best to drown out the realization that this game is a tough day. You’re fighting for your life as much as you are fighting for your job. It is the way you live. I mean, this is how we all make a living.”
Seargeant recently won the first of a two-night AFB event in Ogden, Utah, but did not escape without suffering a concussion.
McWilliams turned out of an AFB event in Perryton, Texas, two days after winning an event in Nebraska because of lingering issues after being hooked back in May at an AFB event Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The freestyle game requires physical and mental toughness.
And, yes, at times, it can be uncompromising and brutal.
That’s why there’s a bond between freestyle (and cowboy protection) bullfighters.
“Not only are these guys my competitors,” Seargeant said, “they’re my friends and we’re going to go out and have a beer regardless of who wins.”
That said, he concluded, “I am chasing a world title, but I’m going to take it one bull at a time. I’m dedicated to what I’m doing. I love what I do. I love my sponsors—you get me up and down the road. I’ve gotten to do some cool things in a short amount of time and, you know, the road goes on forever and the party never ends.”