By: Justin Felisko June 16, 2014@ 04:00:00 PM
BISMARCK, N.D. – By the time Cody Nance had hit the dirt on Saturday night at the DCB PBR Bull Riding Challenge, Frank Newsom had already dug his foot into the ground and was anticipating his next move with Cats Kid eyeing him down.
Just as he has done for the last 16 years on the Built Ford Tough Series, the veteran bull fighter showed a quick burst of speed, even with his knee braces in full support, and sprinted towards the fence. Cats Kid made his beeline as well, but a quick turn by Newsom and some help from his fellow bullfighters had the bovine fooled and everyone on the dirt in safe position.
Newsom then took a second to catch his breath, while Cats Kid made his way out of the arena, before Nevada Miller came along for a congratulatory slap on the hand.
It was another job well-done by one of the best in the business.
“I’ve worked with Frank here eight years now,” Miller said. “He is just very smooth. He just does things super correctly. He is in the right place at the right time and can contribute to everything that is going on, so it makes it really easy working with a guy like Frank.”
Newsom’s expertise and experience as a bull fighter is partially why it makes it so easy for him to transition into working with two different bullfighters compared to his usual battle mates Jesse Byrne, Shorty Gorham and, in some cases, Lyndel Runyan.
Some of the most important keys of bull fighting include communication, trust and instinct. Development of those three skills is part of the reason Newsom, Byrne and Gorham have such a solid chemistry inside the arena. The trio can spend the summer break away from each other and hop right back onto the dirt with nearly flawless execution. But that kind of chemistry isn’t developed over night.
It takes time, practice and a commitment to work selflessly.
However, Newsom, Miller and James Zimmerman worked as flawless as they possibly could in Bismarck. They may not be fighting together on a consistent basis, but the three fighters understood their number one priority was to keep the riders safe inside the Bismarck Civic Center.
“Well, the main thing is to try and get that feel, that timing with each other,” Newsom said before the start of Chad Berger’s two nights of Touring Pro Division action. “It usually takes a few bulls to get into that and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we will roll from the first bull on. Shorty and Jesse, we are together so much it don’t matter. It don’t seem like we have been apart.”
Zimmerman was bullfighting for the third time in Bismarck, and he has been fighting alongside Miller for the past 13 years. In essence, the duo has the kind of chemistry that Newsom, Gorham and Byrne demonstrate on a weekly basis during the Built Ford Tough Series. Zimmerman explained that fighting alongside a consummate pro like Newsom makes any transition pretty easy.
“I’ve worked with Frank a few times,” he said. “Hopping in with somebody like Frank who has been there and everything is pretty easy. We all know our jobs and we have been doing this for over 10 years. It is repetition and you know what is going on around you at all times.”
There was no question Miller and Zimmerman would look up to Newsom in the arena and let him lead the way. It is a role that Newsom has grown accustomed to over the years.
“Sometimes, I don’t feel any different than when I was a young guy, but then I look around and realize, ‘Yeah I am the older guy,’” Newsom said. “But, that’s cool. I will take it on.”
Regardless, Newsom was confident entering the weekend with Miller and Zimmerman – in part because he has seen their talent in the arena next to him. He knew they had the ability to succeed and work well with him.
It was a matter of sticking to the basics and everyone doing their job, said Newsom.
That was such the case when Mike Lee got hung up on Modified Clyde following his 85.5-point ride in the championship round on Friday night. Similar to those instances when Newsom, Byrne and Gorham had to step in and free the 2004 World Champion on the BFTS, Newsom, Miller and Zimmerman hopped into the line of duty and worked to free Lee from danger.
Once Lee was able to dislodge himself from his bull rope, Newsom and Miller stepped in front of the down rider as Zimmerman kept Modified Clyde at bay and prevent Lee, who did get stomped on, from further injury.
“If a guy is down or there is something going on, we want everybody to know it,” Newsom said. “To have that communication is a good thing and a lot of it is just that feel for each other. If you end up right beside each other you don’t panic and you just kind of work your way through it and kind of adjust to it.”
Zimmerman called it a privilege to work alongside one of the greats of bullfighting.
“I was really excited to be working with Frank,” he said. “Shoot, he is a legend.”
Miller grew up watching films of Newsom bull fighting and said it is always an honor to fight alongside one of the greats. He also has worked with Dennis Johnson, Rob Smets and the late Greg Crabtree.
Still, there is always something special about working alongside Newsom.
“I mean, he is one of the best. He’s got just heart and try – that is the main thing,” Miller said. “The heart of a champion like Frank is unbelievable.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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