Spencer Mitchell and his 15-year-old nephew Trigger Hargrove delivered in dominating fashion with an $86,000 1-2-3 punch in the BFI #15.5 Roping, which was held April 1 at the Lazy E Arena. With 31.22 seconds on four steers, Wrangler National Finals Rodeo header Mitchell and young Hargrove cashed the $40,000 winners’ check. Mitchell switched ends and heeled for Trevor Kirchenschlager to take second and $26,000, and Trigger heeled for Casey Hicks for third place and $20,000 on top of the win with Uncle Spank.
After taking command of the roping heeling for Kirchenschlager at second high callback, Mitchell had that rare and special walk back up the arena knowing he had the roping won no matter what happened on his high-team run with Hargrove.
“It was a fun feeling, and a relief,” said Mitchell, 33, who calls Orange Cove, California home. “I stopped in the arena and uncinched my (heel) horse, because I had to calm myself before going back in there to rope with my nephew for a lot of money.
The 2013 day 24-year-old Spencer Mitchell cheered his 6-year-old nephew Trigger Hargrove on to his first-ever saddle win in the BFI dummy roping. Mitchell Family Photo
“Wanting to do good for him and succeed with him was huge. I could see that as a family, we had the opportunity to win first through third. That was an exciting factor. I had to get ahold of my nerves and get back to what I was here to do.”
Trigger’s the son of Spencer’s sister, Ashley, who moved to Oklahoma for college and never left. Cool is the fact that Spencer was by Trigger’s side when he won his first saddle for the dummy roping win at the 2013 BFI, when Spencer was 24 and Trigger was 6. Heck, Uncle Spencer used to change Trigger’s diapers.
“I’d say there’s less pressure to roping with family for Trigger,” Spencer said. “But for me—being the older one who’s had some success in the past and who people expect to win—there’s more. I look for Trigger to succeed as he keeps pushing his roping to the next level.”
Spencer has obviously had a big hand in Trigger’s climb up the roping ranks.
“Spencer’s had a lot of influence on my roping, but even more on my horsemanship,” said Trigger, who lives in Gracemont, Oklahoma. “He’s helped me out a lot on things like where to put my horse and when to pick him up.”
Things got a tick wild on their high-team steer, to the point where Trigger reached down and dallied with both hands to get the flag. The kid’s flair for walking on the wild side is likely a genetic link to Uncle Spencer.
Spencer’s roped at two NFRs to date—he headed for his late boyhood besty Broc Cresta in 2011, and for Dakota Kirchenschlager in 2012, a few months after Broc left us so suddenly at The Daddy in Cheyenne at 25. Trigger ropes with a BC sticker on the back of his hat.
“Broc was a big deal in my life when I was little,” said Trigger, who’s early career highlights also include the win in the #10.5 with Brandt O’Connor at the 2020 USTRC Finals, and $25,000 and a truck at the 2020 Original Team Roping Association Finals on his 14th birthday. “Broc was always with (Uncle) Spank. All I remember is me and him roping the dummy as many times as we could until my mom would make me go to bed.”
Mitchell and Hargrove roped four steers in 31.22 seconds to take the 2022 BFI #15.5 win. Andersen CbarC Photo
Horsepower is huge in the conditions demanded here at the 440-foot-long Lazy E. Spencer heeled on his 2022 BFI and rodeo partner Jason Duby’s sorrel mare, Tuesday, who came from Brandon Beers. Mitchell headed on his own 11-year-old sorrel, blaze-faced horse, Snapchat, who came from his friends at Lost Creek Ranch here in Oklahoma. On an interesting side note, Kirchenschlager headed for Mitchell on Spencer’s heel horse Barracuda.
Hargrove heeled on his 14-year-old brown, bald-faced horse, Whiskey. Uncle Spencer had the horse after he bucked some people off. Spencer’s wife, Whitney, twisted his arm into giving Whiskey to Trigger when she saw them hit it off. Spencer and Whitney’s little boy, Broc, will turn 5 on May 29.
Spencer’s a renowned switch-ender, so his versatility came as no surprise. Mitchell and Hargrove are both Team Cactus members. They used a medium Thrilla on the back side, and Spank headed with a soft Hooey.
“Anybody who knows me knows that if I had a choice, I’d heel,” Mitchell said. “Heading is amazing, too, and I’ve always promised Trigger as he’s been growing up that as he moves up levels I’ll rope with him more and more. To come back first and second heeling and heading was fun. Going from one side to the other back-to-back almost relieved a little pressure.”
In case you’re curious, Spencer’s an 8+ header and a 9 heeler. Trigger’s a 7 heeler, so they were a perfect match in the #15.5. They hope to hook up for the BFI one day soon. For now, they’re thinking they’ll reinvest the family’s windfall win into more horses.
“Coming from the West Coast, I prefer the longer starts and the stronger steers,” Mitchell said. “It makes it a tough roping and a true contest, and the Lazy E’s a great place to have this long score. The conditions today were really tough. You have no choice but to stay aggressive here. If you back off at all on either side, you’ll step on yourself.”