By Keith Ryan Cartwright

It had been a decade since Cade Gibson competed in his home state of Idaho, but when Clint Adkins called out his name and reminded the crowd that he was one of their own, Gibson was moved by the response.

“Just to hear that crowd was freaking awesome,” Gibson said. 

Bolstered by the support, Gibson, who was born and raised in Idaho before relocating to Texas, scored 92.5 points to win the latest of Shorty Gorham’s American Freestyle Bullfighting events to be held in conjunction with the PBR.

It was the first time Gibson, 21, competed in Nampa, Idaho, since junior rodeo and the first time he’s been to the Idaho Center for a PBR event since he was 10 or 11 years old. Gibson grew up idolizing former PBR bull rider and fellow Idaho native Wiley Petersen. 

“It came full circle,” Gibson said. 

He added, “It was pretty cool, very fulfilling. I was able to do my job just like (the bull) did his and it turned out.”

It was the highest mark of Gibson’s career.

He had seen a video of the bull from two months earlier and knew beforehand, “Man, that sucker stays in your hip pocket.”

The two connected from the get-go. 

“When I hit him with that fake,” Gibson explained, “it was just an awesome feeling. I started making rounds. Everything felt smooth. I knew he was going to stay hooked up.”

And the judges rewarded him accordingly.

The win earned Gibson 80 points in the world standings. 

He is the defending 2018 AFB champion and heads to Vegas with a shot at this year’s title, ranked fifth in the standings, and a chance to surpass top-ranked Alex McWilliams along with Tristan Seargeant, Sage Seay and Dylan Idleman, who are all four ahead of Gibson in the 2019 standings. 

The Finals get underway Nov. 6 and conclude Nov. 9. 

Much like this season, Gibson is hoping to continue his winning ways between now and the early part of the 2020 season because of how busy his rodeo schedule has gotten with providing cowboy protection. Nampa was only his 10th freestyle event in 2019 compared to in upwards of 30 a year earlier.

“I’ve been so busy,” Gibson said, “when I step in that arena, I know that I’m going to give it everything I got and I’m going to draw me a check.

“Freestyle has opened every door that I’ve walked through. There’s a lot of guys that are wishing for the opportunities to be at an AFB and go to a PBR event. I’m blessed enough to have that opportunity, so, heck yeah, we just go make the most of it and enjoy it because this is a short career.”