Behind The Box: 10 Memorable Moments from the 41st Annual BFI

I have always been a huge fan of the Bob Feist Invitational.  After all, it is the most prestigious team roping event ever created!  So, when Kami Peterson called me and asked if I could help with BFI Week, I jumped at the opportunity.

Going behind the scenes of the 41st Annual BFI and BFI Week 2018 was a dream come true!

Here are my top 10 favorite moments from BFI Week 2018!

#10: Bear Pascoe and Steve Simons winning the Reno Million

Bear Pascoe is no stranger to the limelight.  Although he grew up cowboy, he found his place on the football field.  Today he packs around a Super Bowl ring which he earned playing for the New York Giants and now he also holds the title of Reno Million winner!

His partner, Steve Simons, just so happens to be a good friend of mine.  So, watching him win this year, was truly an honor.  But this is not Steve’s first time making the high teams at the Reno Million.  In fact, he has made the high teams two other times with no luck.  Third time’s a charm I guess, because this year he walked away a champion!

#9: Lari Dee Guy wins first and second in the Charlie One Horse All Girl

Any girl that ropes is a fan of Lari Dee Guy.  Not only is she a tough competitor, but she is an amazing advocate for the sport of team roping and women.

This year’s Charlie One Horse All Girl was tough.  I sat back and watched as team after team went out of the roping.  But LD stood strong and roped all of her cattle, winning 1st with Whitney DeSalvo and 2nd with Annette Stahl.  When it was all said and done, she cleaned house with a $25,500 win!

#8: Jace Johnson, BFI’s youngest competitor

Ok…so, Jace wasn’t the youngest competitor this year, but he is the youngest competitor ever invited to the BFI.  Last year, when Jace was just 15 years old, he was invited to rope at the BFI with Mike Beers.  There was a bit of discrepancy in that statement because I knew that Russell Funk was also only 15 when he was invited to rope at his first BFI.  So, we got Russell on the phone and he confirmed that when he roped at the BFI, he was 15 years and 5 months old.  Jace, on the other hand, was 15 years and 1 month old…thus making him the youngest competitor ever invited to the BFI.

This year, Jace is 16 years old and although he and Mike had tough luck going out in the first round, he is looking forward to competing again next year!

#7: The Mike Beers-Denny Watkins Rivalry

Mike Beers and Denny Watkins have one thing in common…they both have competed in every single BFI since it was created in 1977.  I had the opportunity to catch up with both of them and when asked who was going to last the longest, Mike was quite certain it would be him.

“My wife is going to help me on my horse when I’m too old to get up there by myself,” he said.

Denny, on the other hand, played it much cooler.  “I didn’t realize this was a competition!”

#6: A Near Disaster

In the third round of the BFI, I watched in horror as Tyler Wade and Tyler McKnight backed in the box and called for their steer.  They were sitting 1st in the average after the first 2 rounds and as they called for their 3rd steer, the previous team’s steer escaped from the catch pen and ran up the arena.  Tyler Wade reached out and roped his steer, turning him just before the two steers came together in the arena.  As McKnight came around the corner, his horse nearly collided with the loose steer and he managed to grab two feet and come tight.  It was a near disaster, but when it was all said and done, they still managed to hold onto a spot in the average, winning 15th on five head for $6500.

#5: Epic Teams

This year’s BFI saw some epic match ups.  Derrick Begay and Jade Corkill teamed up for the first time at the Feist.  We also saw team roping legends, Jake Barnes and Rich Skelton, team up.  Unfortunately, neither of those teams had much luck.  However, crowd favorites, Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, roped tough to place 4th in the average.

#4: The Switch-Ender

Daniel Green is a BFI favorite.  He has won nearly every place possible at the BFI with the exception of first and second in the average.  And all of those wins have been secured on the heading end.  So, when I saw that he was entered heeling this year, I had to know what was up.

“I wasn’t planning on roping this year.  I hadn’t gotten my card or anything.  So, I get a call from a friend asking if I would rope with Joe Hub Baker.  I didn’t even have a heel horse to ride.  So, I tried 3 horses and the one I picked fell down with me in practice the day before the BFI and came up lame.  I ended up riding a horse that was a little bit greener.”

Daniel and Joe had three decent runs in the first three rounds, but unfortunately, they drew a runner in the fourth round that took them out of the average and they walked away empty handed.

#3: Chris Francis and Cade Passig Win the 41st Annual BFI

Wait…who?  If you are wondering who the winners of the 41st annual BFI were this year, you probably weren’t alone.  Chris Francis and Caleb Passig came in like a dark horse and stole the average in one of the toughest BFI’s we have ever seen!  So, who are these guys?  Besides the fact that they have been out competing and winning rodeos across the US all year long, they are also employees of Mathews Land and Cattle Co.

“We spend a lot of time breaking in cattle together.” Passig told me.

“We honestly weren’t very prepared for the BFI this year,” Francis said.  “We had really only roped on our good horses maybe 5 times before getting here.”

Call it luck of the draw or just plain skill, these boys cleaned house pocketing over $122,000.

#2 The Reno Experience

One of my favorite things about the BFI is that it takes place in Reno, NV.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Vegas.  But there is something about the small town, intimate feel of Reno that makes it the best place for the BFI.  At any given moment, you can walk through the Silver Legacy and see a number of your favorite ropers.  You can sit down at the blackjack tables and play cards with them.  You can sit next to them at dinner.  But my favorite part about the BFI is that during the event itself, you are side by side with the contestants.  There is no assigned seating at the BFI.  You can sit right down behind the boxes if you’d like to.  You can walk around and shop right alongside your team roping heroes.  If you have never attended the BFI in person, I highly recommend it!

#1: The Toughest Short Round in BFI History

The BFI has always had a long score and strong cattle, but this year, the cattle seemed stronger than ever and we were able to witness the fastest short round in BFI history.  Not only was it a fast short round, but the teams were dialed in with only one miss and one leg out of 15 teams.  It was a BFI for the record books and one you definitely did not want to miss!  But, there’s good news!  If you did miss this year’s BFI, you can purchase the DVD from Rodeo Video and watch all the action again and again!

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