Britt Smith of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, became the second-straight Hooey Junior BFI Championships Open heading champ on June 22, this time with defending national high school champion Breck Ward of Jerome, Idaho. The pair roped four steers in 34.58 seconds to split $20,000, edging Cash Duty and J.R. Gonzalez by two seconds.
The second annual event for kids 17 and under is patterned after the richest Open roping in America – the 42-year-old Bob Feist Invitational – held in conjunction with the half-million-dollar Reno Rodeo. It consists of the Jr. Open and the Jr. #10.5, which limits individual ropers’ classifications to #6. This year, both ropings served as direct qualifiers to the annual Jr. World Finals in Las Vegas, so the top five teams in each roping have now qualified to rope in Las Vegas.
Last year, Smith split $15,000 when he won the Jr. Open with Wyoming’s Carson Johnson, but the two didn’t have any luck together this year. Instead, Smith and Ward were the high callback team and needed an 8.4-second run to win the roping. Their 6.2 gave them the title easily, and the big cash paycheck plus a truckload of prizes. Ward, a 17-year-old No. 8 heeler, is the defending national high school team roping champion.
“I’d never heard of Breck until I’d seen him rope here last year,” said Smith. “That’s what’s so neat about this roping. They’re doing a great thing here, and it paid more this year. Hopefully it just gets bigger and bigger, and I’m so glad they have the #10.5, too, for the younger kids. What a cool way to prepare for the real BFI one day.”
In the #10.5, Cole Bunting and Stoney Boy Joseph won the aggregate with a four-head time of 35.57. They bested last year’s heading champ, Jett Stewart, and Nicky Northcott by four seconds to split $16,640.
Smith, a #8 header, is the youngest brother of defending world champion header Clay Smith. Britt entered the actual BFI this year, as well, with the third Smith brother, Jake. The pair placed second in the third round of the BFI on a run of 4.66 seconds to split $6,000.
“I can remember since I was little bitty, I’d watch BFI videos until I fell asleep at night,” said Smith. “You can play the same one over and over and always catch something new.”
While in Reno, Britt also competed in World Series of Team Roping contests just outside town and won an Open roping with Gonzalez for another $3,600 per man. His total cash haul during Wrangler BFI Week, presented by Yeti, came to $16,600.
Complete Results from the Hooey Junior BFI Open:
First Round: 1. Brayden Schmidt and Jaylen Eldridge, 6.96 seconds, $1,000; 2. Riley Rieken and Mason Pitts, 7.05, $800; Second Round: 1. Cash Duty and John Hisel, 5.69, $1,000; 2. Cutter Duckett and Jesse Hines, 5.92, $800; Third Round: 1. Cutter Duckett and Logan Moore, 5.34, $1,000; 2. Houston Hull and Zane Pratt, 5.56, $800; Short Round: 1. Peyton Walters and Carson Johnson, 5.27, $1,000; 2. Chase Sandstrom and Jesse Hines, 5.95, $800; Average: 1. Britt Smith and Breck Ward, 34.58 seconds on four, $20,000; 2. Cash Duty and J.R. Gonzalez, 36.60, $11,000; 3. Peyton Walters and Logan Moore, 37.63, $5,000; 4. Brayden Schmidt and Jaylen Eldridge, 41.21, $2,250; 5. Clay Cherry and Sterlin English, 44.33, $1,250; 6. Chase Webster and Zackery Lewis, 45.50, $1,000; 7. Tyler McKinney and Mason Pitts, 46.54, $1,000.
Complete Results from the Hooey Junior BFI #10.5:
First Round: 1. Gavin Hershberger and Jace Thorstenson, 6.88 seconds, $800; 2. Sylais York and Gavin Cardoza, 6.95, $640; Second Round: 1. Chase Webster and Beau Rees, 6.32, $800; 2. Cole Bunting and Stoney Boy Joseph, 6.87, $640; Third Round: 1. Ryan Bettencourt and Brock Grashuis, 6.32, $800; 2 Kaleb Heimburg and Hector Dukes, 6.80, $640; Average: 1. Cole Bunting and Stoney Boy Joseph, 35.57 seconds on four, $16,000; 2. Jett Stewart and Nicky Northcott, 39.77, $8,100; 3. Meason Ybarra and Rustin Baldwin, 41.22, $4,000; 4. Kaleb Heimburg and Hector Dukes, 47.26, $2,000; 5. Denton Parish and Grant Foster, 47.31, $1,200; 6. Chase Helton and Clayton Moore, 56.19, $960; 7. Pierce Wold and Dean Sherbo, 28.37 seconds on three, $960; 8. Rance Winters and Clayton Moore, 35.82, $600.
About the BFI: The Bob Feist Invitational was founded by Bob Feist in 1977 to showcase and reward the world’s best professional team ropers, and is owned today by Ullman-Peterson Events. Annually the top 100 teams in the sport are invited to the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center in Nevada, where they compete over six rounds for a cash-and-awards package worth more than $600,000.