SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Toby Inman couldn’t remember exactly the last time he won a freestyle bullfight.
He won’t have that problem anymore after his Bullfighters Only performance on Friday and Saturday during the Sioux Falls Premier Rodeo. He posted the highest score of the weekend on opening night with an 89-point fight while dancing with War Fighting Bulls’ Ghost Face. He followed that with a solid 84 on Saturday to earn the event title with a cumulative score of 173 points on two fights.
“Friday night was a big deal to me, because I had a good bull, I cracked out and enjoyed it,” said Inman of Davis Junction, Ill. “My Saturday night wasn’t so great, but Friday night was something I needed.
“That was one that you could enjoy. I had a good bull that was on me the whole time, and I had a good time. It was fantastic.”
It was. The 89 is one of the highest scores of the inaugural Bullfighters Only season. Inman started by jumping Ghost Face, then threw in a couple of strong fakes that sent the bull sliding past. He made a few rounds, turning his back to the animal and showing great control. He finished the fight with a fake that dropped both him and the bull to their knees.
It was a true showcase of Inman’s abilities, even though it’s just the third bullfight he’s competed over the last five years.
“I would say the first two bullfights, I was still trying to figure everything out,” he said. “Being in a good arena with a big crowd was definitely great. When you call for the bull, all that noise goes away and it doesn’t matter. It’s just you and the bull.
“Once I hit that jump, the rest of it was perfect.”
It was a weekend filled with exceptional talent, with Inman and Ross Hill of Muscle Shoals, Ala., serving as the veterans and 20-year-old Dakota Knight of Lebo, Kan., bringing a fresh face to the game. While Inman won the average title, Hill and Knight split the final-night victory with 86.5 points each.
“It was a big deal to me,” Knight said. “I watched these guys compete all year, and I kept telling myself how much I’d like to be up there in the big leagues. I was tickled to death to be in the arena with Ross Hill and Toby Inman. It was overwhelming to be under the big lights with those guys.”
Knight is a second-generation bullfighter who got his start at a very young age. He followed his dad around the rodeo trail and had several opportunities to refine his game at a young age.
“I had always wanted to do it, and I had done a little when I was a little kid,” he said. “They had a little calf, and I’d freestyle him during the performance. It’s something that I had an opportunity to do ever since I stepped into that arena, and I haven’t left.”
His talent showed in Sioux Falls.
“The atmosphere was awesome, and the crowd was really loud,” Knight said. “I’ve never been in front of anything like that before; it was really exciting. They were really excited and were really cheering, and I just kept driving because they kept wanting me to do more.”
It served as the perfect setting for a brilliant night of Bullfighters Only.
1. Toby Inman, 89 points
2. Ross Hill, 82.5
3. DaKota Knight, 80.5
1. Ross Hill and Dakota Knight, 86.5 points
3. Toby Inman, 84
1. Toby Inman, 173 points on two fights
2. Ross Hill, 169
3. Dakota Knight, 167