SALINAS, Calif. – Many things have changed for Toby Inman since 2009, the last time he earned the freestyle bullfighting title in Salinas.
One thing that hasn’t: He is still one of the smoothest men to have ever tested his skills on the California Rodeo Salinas track. He proved it this past weekend by dominating the Bullfighters Only competition – he won the first three rounds and won the overall championship on a four-fight total of 335 points, 25.5 points better than the runner-up, Weston Rutkowski.
“I was feeling good the first three rounds and was on top of my game,” said Inman of Davis Junction, Ill. “I had good draws, and I was soaking up every bit of it.
“I’m going to enjoy this for a while.”
He should. He’s adapted his game considerably since his last Salinas title, then in his mid-20s. Now in his mid-30s, Inman returned to the winner’s circle by showcasing his athleticism in a different way.
“My style has changed to fit how I move now,” he said. “I don’t move as fast, but I’m still fighting as good I’ve always fought even though I’m slowing down more. I’ve always jumped bulls, but nowadays, jumping isn’t good enough. You’ve got to pull off these big tricks to get a check.
“When I was younger, I just did it. I could run a marathon, but I didn’t train for it. Now at 34 years old, I’ve got to run a mile or two to get in shape. I train my body more than I did before.”
The biggest score of the weekend came in the second round when Inman posted an 89-point fight. He began with a running “gainer” over the black Spanish bull. The animal stayed close, and Inman was remained just out of harm’s way for the entire fight.
“It would’ve been cool to take all four nights, but I’ll take what I’ve got,” he said. “I’m glad I got to town early, because I was soaking up as much of Salinas as I could. That rodeo and the people there are awesome.”
Round 1: 1. Toby Inman, 85 points; 2. Zach Flatt, 81; 3. Beau Schueth, 79.5.
Round 2: 1. Toby Inman, 89 points; 2. Cody Emerson, 85; 3. Beau Schueth, 80.
Round 3: 1. Toby Inman, 85.5 points; 2. Weston Rutkowski, 80.5; 3. Cody Emerson, 78.
Round 4: 1. Beau Schueth, 84 points; 2. Zach Flatt, 83; 3. Weston Rutkowski, 82.
Average: 1. Toby Inman, 335 points on four fights; 2. Weston Rutkowski, 319.5; 3. Zach Flatt, 312.5.