Wrangler BFI Week, anchored by the 46th annual Bob Feist Invitational Team Roping on April 1, paid out a record $3.88 million to ropers and drew more than 2,000 teams. The event, running March 29 through April 4, was comprised of 13 separate ropings over seven days in Guthrie, Oklahoma’s Lazy E Arena. Aired live on the Wrangler Network, 112,000 viewers at home watched more than 3.3 million minutes of team roping.
On April 2, Treyton Peterson of Plainview, Texas, and Lance Sippy of Canyon, Texas, roped four steers in 30.79 seconds to split a whopping $200,000 cash in the largest-ever 12.5 roping during BFI Week. The pair bested the field of more than 350 teams from seventh callback, including reserve champs Zac Watson and Milton Aguilera by about a tenth of a second over all four steers. The second-place team still earned $160,000 cash, plus Watson also placed sixth with Ben Winters for another $30,000 a man. He took $110,000 back to Burleson, Texas.
“These cattle were great, I thought,” said Sippy, who got back into team roping after a few years away. “I kind of needed to stay out to see that corner and Treyton made it easy. It’s easy for us to rope together.”
The pair practice and work together for Sippy’s business. The heeler gave a special shout-out to horse trainer Jason Thomas, who helped both men improve their roping and horsemanship recently.
On April 3, longtime team ropers and good friends Samuel Livingston of El Paso, Texas and Danny Zuniga of German, Texas, combined to finally win the 11.5 Businessman’s roping and cash checks worth $75,000 apiece.
The pair, who finished two-tenths of a second behind the champs just a year ago for third, had each entered the lucrative 11.5 for about a dozen years in Reno, Nevada. Livingston has previously heeled in the 11.5, but was heading for Zuniga this time – and knew to urge his horse across the pen to keep the steer out in front of Zuniga.
“Danny’s pretty trusty back there,” said Livingston. “There’s some pressure. You don’t want to drop the ball for a guy who catches all the time.”
Zuniga, who hat-flogged his horse and did a spin during the victory lap, works cattle and trains rope horses when he’s not roping. Livingston’s career has been in real-estate construction.
“Win or lose, it’s so great to have this opportunity,” said Zuniga. “It’s been fun to watch the event evolve over the years. We are so grateful to finally take home this big win; it’s been a bucket-list thing for us.”
Also on April 3, former top professional steer wrestler-turned construction foreman Tooter Silver of Quitman, Arkansas, hit pay dirt in the 10.5-Over-40 event with electrician Cole Mott of Kansas, Oklahoma, to split $108,000. The pair edged reserve champs Tammy Ellerman and Jim Matlack of Colorado by a whopping five seconds over four rounds to get the win.
On the final day of BFI Week in the 9.5-Over-40, longtime friends Steven Hinson and Tom Bridges of Arkansas said they drew good cattle and, from second callback, made a clean run to edge 165 other teams for the win – and a split of $100,000 cash.
“You don’t get to rope for that kind of money very often,” said Hinson of Jonesboro. “We had to take it one steer at a time and it just worked out for us today. It’s always fun to turn around and see your heeler smiling. This win feels great!”
Also on April 4, Nick McClelland of Roswell, New Mexico and Cody Hill of Tahoka, Texas, out-roped the field in the brand-new 8.5 event to split $45,000 for their time of 43.07 seconds on four steers. Roping from sixth callback, the crop adjuster and oilfield worker met in a prior Texas roping where they drew each other. McClelland told Hill if he ever wanted to rope somewhere, to call him. Hill called and said, “Let’s go to the BFI.” And their first-ever trip to the Lazy E Arena was worth $24,500 apiece.
In the final roping of the week, neighbors Dustin Shelton and Shawn McCalister of Henrietta, Texas, split $16,000 for winning the average of the first-ever 7 roping. Shelton, who manages wheat-pasture cattle, and McCalister, a former bull rider from Louisiana who made the PBR Finals, only needed to be 17-some seconds to win the roping. They came tight in 7 and change on a great steer to stomp the field by more than 11 seconds on four.
“I always wanted to go to BFI Week when it was in Reno, but the schedule never worked out,” said McCalister. “When it came here, I figured we had to give it a shot.”
McCalister, who always headed until a couple of years ago, heeled on a cow-bred mare that cost him $2,500. With this check, she’s earned $38,000 for him thus far.
“You always dream of coming and doing this, so when you have success here, it kind of makes you tongue-tied,” admitted Shelton, a husband and father of four.