On March 18, mentored by a couple of roping superstars, Eli Green and Chase Helton of California bested 167 other teams to top the Jr. 10.5 and split a cool $20,000.
“I was pretty nervous for that last one,” said 16-year-old Helton of Merced, who was in Guthrie with former BFI champion and family friend Cody Cowden. “I kept replaying a couple of runs we made in the practice pen to keep myself prepared.”
It wasn’t their first pressure situation. Green, the 15-year-old son of 10-time NFR header Daniel Green, and Helton earlier this winter won a 10.5 truck roping in Arizona to split $10,000 and tie in points for the truck. That prompted a four-steer rope-off, after which Helton’s family took the truck home because he doesn’t yet have a driver’s license.
In Guthrie, Green and Helton roped like they’ve been partners nearly all their lives because they have. They nailed the high-callback position by about a second, then used a six-second run to smoke the field by four seconds in the aggregate.
“I pushed the barrier more than I should have, coming back high call,” said Green, a freshman in high school. “And Chase tried him on. He always tries them on.”
The pair roped four steers in 32.22 seconds to split $20,000, while Helton also placed second in the first round heading for Sid Harvey, worth another $1,000.
“I really like this roping and the steers they rope,” said Green, who uses a Cactus Peacemaker. ““He goes fast, so I’ve just got to set up his steers. If you give him a good corner, he’ll heel them all.”
Green, who was riding his dad’s good head horse, Sevens, wouldn’t mind following in Daniel’s footsteps as a timed-event kingpin, starting with a repeat of his father’s national high school rodeo all-around championship. Daniel, who extended his stay in Guthrie once he knew Eli was high callback, didn’t have any last-second advice for his son.
“I’ve roped enough high-teamers that Dad knows I know what to do right there,” said Eli. “My dad taught me to feel as little pressure as possible. I will say that when I thought I had a big-horned steer, I got a little nervous because I’ve been splitting the horns lately. Other than that, I was pretty calm.”
Green and Helton have decided they cannot win at high school rodeos, so as partners they stick to jackpots only. Green, who heads with a Classic NXT5, would like to use his $10,000 to try to find a heel horse. And both boys have the cash earmarked for entry fees at Arizona jackpots this spring.
“I was going to play football this year, but because of Covid I had to homeschool and skipped sports,” said Green, who had never attended the Hooey Jr. BFI in the past. “I probably roped more during the day this year and go to go to more places than ever before.”