Small and Thorp win $130,000 at 39th BFI

Reno, Nev., June 20, 2016 – A couple of kids who had never been to the esteemed Bob Feist Invitational handily dominated the 39th edition of the richest one-day Open roping in the world.
On Monday, 21-year-old Zac Small of Welch, Okla., and 20-year-old Wesley Thorp of Throckmorton, Texas, roped six steers in 42.71 seconds to split $124,000 in the overall purse plus $6,000 in two of the six rounds. They also claimed a truckload of first-place prizes that included Coats saddles, Gist buckles, Myler bits, Best Ever pads, Justin full-quill ostrich boots, Yeti coolers and Cactus horse blankets – all BFI-customized.
“I feel like we both roped our roping,” Thorp said. “If we had a chance at a shot we took it, and we didn’t safety up and we didn’t try to do too much.”
Small and Thorp were team No. 1, which isn’t the preferred draw position in team roping. But these two have ice in their veins. They got the flag in 7.55 seconds on that one, and Thorp stopped the second steer in a quick 6.22 for money.
“I really like the set-up here,” said Small. “I like that they have that 18-foot head start and you have to use your horse. I have a good horse so it works in my favor.”
A business-like 8.25-second run on the third round moved them to second overall in the roping, and their time of 7.23 gave them the high-call position by three seconds.
“I was more nervous for that fifth steer than I was for the short round,” said Thorp. “Then it’s all about getting by the last steer and it’s over. In the fifth round, you still have to get there. And if that doesn’t work, you don’t have anything to show for it.”
In the finals, the second-place team of Lane Ivy and BJ Dugger did everything they could to catch the leaders, making a great run of 6.56. But when a pair of cold-as-ice young jackpot kings have nine and a half seconds with which to win a jackpot, you can lay your money down. They made a run of 6.34 – the second-fastest time of the round – to win the total time on six head with the second-fastest time in the 39 years of the event.
“I was just glad we caught him and there were no surprises,” Small said. “Even though my horse has a lot of speed, he rates really good. It went better than planned.”
The eight-hour event demands mental toughness, Thorp said, and he would mount his horse about 20 minutes before each run and stay off by himself to stay focused. Also, he didn’t eat all day.
“I have a goal to win obviously, but I try not to get ahead of myself and think I’ll go win the roping,” he said. “I just rope each steer for what he’s worth. I try not to tell myself when to throw; I just ride and get position. It’s not always going to work out, so I don’t get that discouraged if it doesn’t.”
He’s only 20, but if he sounds like a much older veteran, it could be the mentoring he’s had from veteran instructors Tyler Magnus and Speed Williams. Plus, just two days before the BFI, Thorp won the national championship at the 2016 College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., after catching four steers in 24.4 seconds with Cole Wheeler.
He’s done now with his online Ranger College business classes, and is contemplating where he’ll get his next online college credits. Since Small graduated from Tarleton State University this year, the two have practiced every day in Stephenville, Texas. Through mid-June, they’d won $33,000 in their first year of full-time PRCA competition to rank fifth and fourth, respectively, in the world rodeo heading and heeling standings.
Small’s $65,000 will go toward tuition at Lincoln Memorial University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, which he begins on Aug. 8 in Harrogate, Tenn. And maybe part of it will go to his upcoming wedding to barrel racer Cayla Melby.
BFI reserve champions Lane Ivy and BJ Dugger never really had had a chance to move ahead of the college boys, but still had a great six rounds to take home $43,500 a man.
“Our approach is to rope the steer we draw as good and as fast as we can,” said Ivy. “Actually, me and Wesley have always been good friends. I can remember roping the dummy with him as high call here. For us to win first and second today is such a great experience. He’s 20 and I’m 23. They let us have $100,000 in Reno? Look out, is all I have to say!”
Third place and $27,500 a man went to timed-event champ Paul David Tierney and 9-time NFR heeler Cesar de la Cruz, while last year’s defending BFI champs, Erich Rogers and Cory Petska, rode out with a bang. They won the short round in 6.11 seconds to finish fourth in the average and earn $19,000 a man. In lifetime BFI earnings, the money brought them within spitting distance of Speed Williams, who is the seventh-high-money earner of all time at the BFI.

Complete results from the 2016 Bob Feist Invitational:

First Round: 1. Cody Snow and Dugan Kelly, 6.13 seconds, $8,000; 2. JB James and Brock Hanson, 6.27, $6,000; 3. Jaguar Terrill and Jason Warner, 6.61, $4,000; 4. Riley Minor and Brady Minor, 7.04, $2,000.

Second Round: 1. Dustin Bird and Russel Cardoza, 5.69 seconds, $8,000; 2. Charly Crawford and Kollin VonAhn, 5.83, $6,000; 3. Cale Markham and Steve Northcott, 6.08, $4,000; 4. Zac Small and Wesley Thorp, 6.22, $2,000.

Third Round: 1. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, 4.35 seconds, $8,000; 2. Chant Deforest and Bronc Boehnlein, 4.93, $6,000; 3. Kolton Schmidt and Shay Carroll, 5.08, $4,000; 4. Jake Orman and Tyler Domingue, 5.20, $2,000.

Fourth Round: 1. Aaron Macy and Cody Pearson, 4.9 seconds, $7,000; 2. Drew Horner and Trey Johnson, 4.9, $7,000; 3. Nick Sartain and Gage Williams, 6.12, $4,000; 4. Paul David Tierney and Cesar de la Cruz, 6.23, $2,000.

Fifth Round: 1. Richard Eiguren and Kyle Lockett, 5.21 seconds, $8,000; 2. Ty Blasingame and Shad Chadwick, 5.22, $6,000; 3. Coleman Proctor and Billie Jack Saebens, 5.35, $4,000; 4. Rance Gantt and Kyle Lawrence, 5.37, $2,000.

Short Round: 1. Erich Rogers and Cory Petska, 6.11 seconds, $5,000; 2. Zac Small and Wesley Thorp, 6.34, $4,000; 3. Lane Ivy and BJ Dugger, 6.56, $3,000; 4. Paul David Tierney and Cesar de la Cruz, 6.69, $2,000

Average: 1. Zac Small and Wesley Thorp, 42.71 seconds on six steers, $124,000; 2. Lane Ivy and BJ Dugger, 45.94, $84,000; 3. Paul David Tierney and Cesar de la Cruz, 46.61, $51,000; 4. Erich Rogers and Cory Petska, 48.89, $33,000; 5. Chad Masters and Anthony Calmelat, 48.95, $21,000; 6. Riley Minor and Brady Minor, 53.44, $17,000; 7. Justin Davis and Zane Bruce, 53.63, $15,000; 8. Ryan VonAhn and Derrick Peterson, 57.22, $12,000; 9. Tom Richards and Nick Sarchett, 57.86, $10,000; 10. Brandon Webb and Mickey Gomez, 61.68, $8,000; 11. Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill, 65.57, $8,000; 12. Josi Young and Derrick Jantzen, 41.00 on five, $8,000; 13. Brooks Dahozy and Brandon Yates, 42.91, $6,000; 14. Travis Tryan and Tyler Worley, 47.07, $6,000; 15. Colby Lovell and Travis Graves, 47.49, $6,000.
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About the BFI: The Bob Feist Invitational, founded by Bob Feist in 1977 to showcase and reward the premier ropers of the sport, is owned today by Ullman-Peterson Events. Annually it invites the top 100 teams in the industry to the Livestock Events Center in Reno, Nev., where they compete in six rounds for a cash-and-awards package worth more than $800,000 in 2016.