The flag at the 42nd Annual Bob Feist Invitational on June 24 was still moving at the end of the final run of 7.2 seconds when 26-year-old Lane Siggins began racing around the arena to celebrate the resulting $120,000 cash prize with partner Junior Dees, 21. The Arizona boys finally vaulted off their moving horses to throw their arms around each other.
“I felt like we were 9 seconds on that run, and when the announcer said 7, my hat just came off,” Siggins said later. “I’ve been practicing to win the BFI at my house since I was 5 years old. I was ready for that victory lap!”
The first-place prize at the BFI in Reno, Nevada, often marks the biggest win of a roper’s life. The anchor event of Wrangler BFI Week presented by Yeti, it’s held in conjunction this year with the 100th anniversary of the Reno Rodeo. The BFI is the most lucrative but challenging team roping event for professionals in America. Under the traditional format, the 100 best teams in the world are invited to rope six fast steers over an 18-foot head start, for a purse of more than $600,000 in cash and prizes.
A new award this year for the overall fastest time in the first five rounds was given in memory of former BFI champion and three-time fast-time winner Rickey Green. It went to Tyler Wade and Billie Jack Saebens, who clocked a 4.57 to win the third round.
Over five steers, Dees and Siggins became the high callback team, and would compete last. They watched six straight teams make clean runs, and needed an 8.47 for the aggregate win. Their 7.2 edged the six-head time of Oklahoma ropers Cale Markham and Brye Crites by about a second.
Crites, 25, said he’ll pay off his trailer with his portion of the $90,000 he won with Markham, 28. Crites works full-time in an in vitro fertilization lab in Welch, while Markham’s family produces ropings and has Animal Health Supply Inc., in Vinita.
Interviewed in the arena immediately after the celebration, Siggins said that Dees had just made him a superstar. In fact, this was just Dees’ second time in the BFI, but Siggins had been entering it since he was a teenager.
“As someone who grew up jackpotting, it’s been tough to never get past the first steer here,” said Siggins. “But Junior and I have chemistry. There’s no heat roping with him; no pressure. And we’re on the same page financially – if we don’t win, we have to go home. Thanks to John Thompson of Thompson Carriers for paying our entry fees.”
The Siggins family makes a living near Coolidge, Arizona, riding, training and selling roping horses. When Dees arrived at their house last fall, it was to further his own career riding and training horses. By March, he and Lane had become fast friends and began to enter rodeos together.
“We just click,” said Dees. “We get along; he’s like a brother to me. We just have fun and have had luck together.”
Dees spent his early childhood in Arizona, too, before cutting his teeth as a roper in South Dakota. In fact, during the BFI he was on the phone with his mentor, three-time NFR heeler Matt Zancanella, after every steer. Siggins got a little remote coaching, too, from “Zanc” after missing the haze on the first BFI steer.
“I’ve wanted to win this all my life,” said Dees, who basically grew up on the arena floor at places like the BFI, watching Zancanella compete. The Zancanella family also raised the horse Dees credits with his big win. Famous Dillon was sired by their barrel-racing stallion Lion’s Share of Fame – a full brother to Gun Battle, a racehorse with a speed index of 110.
“Dillon” had a half-brother on which Dees qualified for the NFR in 2017, but the horse suffered a career-ending injury last year. Just 8 years old, Dillon went to his first rodeo this spring. On the other hand, Siggins’ gray 12-year-old gelding, “Shooter,” is a veteran and performed so well that he won the annual Heel Horse of the BFI award from Montana Silversmiths. Registered as Amigos Sonita Last, he has foundation cow-horse breeding.
“Tanner Baldwin trained him, and I’ve had him three years now,” said Siggins, who tweaked his roping style to fit the horse. “I have always liked a tighter feel, to where I need to kick a horse up, but he is so free-rolling that I needed to change a little. I mostly watched Ryan Motes to learn his style, since his horses never take his throw away.”
Motes’ horse, incidentally, was the 2014 Heel Horse of the BFI. On the fresh steers in Reno, many horses anticipate the stop and cause heelers to miss their shot, hurry their delivery or struggle to dally. But Shooter is honest every time. In fact, Siggins asked Dees to make sure and face on a tight rope to prevent any slipped legs.
On the other end, Riley Minor won his record fourth Head Horse of the BFI award, courtesy of his defending PRCA/AQHA Head Horse of the Year, RK Tuff Trinket (“Bob”). Minor and his brother, Brady, were winning this year’s BFI after four steers with a 29.61, but a leg penalty in the fifth round dropped them to 10th callback. Bob also won the award in 2016, when the Minors placed sixth.
“I got this horse five years ago and he’s been the greatest blessing in my life,” Minor said. “This award means a lot here with this long score and hard-running cattle. Today, he scored so good that we should have been high call.”
Wrangler BFI Week presented by Yeti continues for three days following the 42ND BFI. For more information, visit www.bfiweek.com.
Complete results from the 2019 Bob Feist Invitational:
First Round: 1. Clay Smith and Jade Corkill, 6.62 seconds, $8,000; 2. Cale Markham and Brye Crites, 6.86, $6,000; 3. Charly Crawford and Logan Medlin, 6.87, $4,000; 4. Dustin Egusquiza and Jake Long, 6.93, $2,000. Second Round: 1. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Noguiera, 4.73 seconds, $8,000; 2. Garrett Rogers and Jake Minor, 5.09, $6,000; 3. Levi Simpson and Cole Davison, 6.23, $4,000; 4. Lane Ivy and Cesar de la Cruz, 6.29, $2,000. Third Round: 1. Tyler Wade and Billie Jack Saebens, 4.57 seconds, $8,000; 2. Britt Smith and Jake Smith, 4.66, $6,000; 3. Tanner Green and Jake Clay, 4.88, $4,000; 4. Chant DeForest and Bronc Boehnlein, 5.84, $2,000. Fourth Round: 1. Marcus Theriot and Colby Payne, 4.68 seconds, 8,000; 2. Garrett Chick and Ross Ashford, 4.95, $6,000; 3. Kolton Schmidt and Jeremy Buhler, 5.08, $4,000; 4. Chad Masters and Joseph Harrison, 5.29, $2,000. Fifth Round: 1. Clayton VanAken and Cullen Teller, 4.60 seconds, $8,000; 2. Lane Ivy and Cesar de la Cruz, 5.08, $6,000; 3. Coleman Proctor and Ryan Motes, 5.18, $4,000; 4. Chase Sanders and Dan Scarbrough, 5.76, $2,000. Short Round: 1. David Key and Rich Skelton, 6.19 seconds, $4,000; 2. Rhett Anderson and Cole Wilson, 6.50, $3,000; 3. Pat Boyle and Jared Hixon, 6.59, $2,000; 4. Billy Bob Brown and Evan Arnold, 6.72 $1,000.
Aggregate: 1. Jr Dees and Lane Siggins, 44.62 seconds on six, $120,000; 2. Cale Markham and Brye Crites, 45.84, $84,000; 3. Billy Bob Brown and Evan Arnold, 46.50, $59,000; 4. Aaron Tsinigine and Patrick Smith, 46.66, $35,000; 5. Rhett Anderson and Cole Wilson, 47.14, $23,000; 6. David Key and Rich Skelton, 47.43, $17,000; 7. Tom Richards and Nick Sarchett, 47.77, $15,000; 8. Pat Boyle and Jared Hixon, 51.70, $12,000; 9. BJ Campbell and Clint Harry, 52.70, $10,000; 10. Brandon Beers and Justin Davis, 52.75, $9,000; 11. Dustin Egusquiza and Jake Long, 53.47, $9,000; 12. Pace Freed and Dustin Searcy, 60.49, $9,000; 13. Riley Minor and Brady Minor, 41.91 seconds on five, $7,000; 14. Coy Brittain and Colton Brittain, 42.96, $7,000; 15. Tate Kirchenschlager and Buddy Hawkins 45.46, $7,000.