McALESTER — Oklahoma Bullriders Inc., or BRI, will send 22 of its best riders to compete Friday at 7 p.m. at Cattlemen’s Arena by the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester. Jesse Monroe, the 2012 BRI champion, will be there, as will Alexis Brown.
Brown has yet to win an event or break into the standings. But Brown’s been riding since she was a 4-year-old trying to hang onto sheep, and now she’s BRI’s only female bullrider.
“I had to earn my respect,” Brown said Thursday.
“All the guys I ride with now, I kind of grew up with them.”
Brown, an 18-year-old who just graduated from Wilson High School, started with sheep, then moved on to calves. She started riding bulls at 14, advancing from Peewee all the way up to Open bulls.
“I was really iffy about it because I was so little when I was 14,” Brown said.
“The bigger they are, the more powerful they are.”
Brown still describes herself as having a small frame. She stands 5-foot-3 and weighs just 125 pounds.
“I’ve been doing it so long that it’s nothing different,” Brown said. Of her fellow riders, she said, “They all make me feel welcome.”
With female bullriders few and far between, Brown’s had no choice but to compete in the same Open division as the men.
That hasn’t stopped her from making the BRI finals each of the last two seasons.
“There’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve worked hard enough to make it to the finals at the end of the year,” Brown said.
“I’m healthy this season and hopefully I can get on top of things and come out with a buckle this year.”
Being healthy is a welcome change for Brown. She missed more than a month with a head injury after a bull stepped down onto her face mask during the 2013 season, then missed more of that season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered when a bull crushed her knee into the starting gate.