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Reno riches

Top two teams take home more than $200,000 in 40th Bob Feist Invitational

From releases and staff reports - July 1st, 2017 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

1707A CoverRENO, Nev. — Middle America should be proud of the cowboys it sent to Nevada for the richest one-day team roping in the world.

Jake Long, 33, of Coffeyville, Kan., and his best friend Coleman Proctor, 31, of Pryor, Okla., have roped together since they were kids, partnering professionally in five different seasons over the past 10 years.

Despite the fact that today Proctor was partnered with fellow Oklahoman Billie Jack Saebens of Nowata, he was the first man to ride over and congratulate Long, horseback, after Long and Luke Brown bested Proctor and Saebens for the coveted Bob Feist Invitational championship. The two teams earned $204,000 in cash.

The 40th anniversary of the oldest, most prestigious invitational team roping in the sport paid out $800,000 in cash and prizes Monday over six rounds of fierce competition. Founded by Bob Feist in 1977 to showcase and reward the world’s best professional team ropers, the event today is owned by Ullman-Peterson Events. Annually they invite the top 100 teams in the sport to the Livestock Events Center, where they compete in six rounds for a cash-and-awards package worth more than $800,000.

Brown and Long headed into the final round with a collective time just .1 seconds faster than that of Proctor and Saebens.

The latter team applied some pressure at the second call-back positon with a final run of 8.09 seconds, but Brown and Long responded in kind, roping their steer in 7.61 seconds to win the aggregate championship with a total time of 44.7 seconds over six rounds. The win was worth $120,000 plus prizes including custom Coats saddles, Gist buckles, and Best Ever pads, plus Justin full-quill ostrich boots, Bex Sunglasses, Yeti coolers and other retail certificates.

“This is my favorite roping; it always has been,” said Brown, of Morgan Mill, Texas. “As a little kid growing up in South Carolina, I was hooked on watching the video of the 1987 BFI.”

Brown has been close to the big win, and placed second here once, but the championship was a feather in the cap of one of rodeo’s all-time great headers. The veteran, who in 2008 became the first cowboy from South Carolina in 31 years to qualify for rodeo’s Super Bowl, has roped at every NFR since then and garnered three NFR average titles.

Long, a six-time NFR heeler who began partnering with Brown in 2016, said it was harder to know they could win the BFI with a nine-second run on their last steer than if they’d needed a six-second run.

“I’m not known for throwing my rope conservatively,” said Long. “I’ve worked really hard on those situations.”

It helps that Long was aboard “Colonel,” the defending PRCA/AQHA Heel Horse of the Year, and Brown was riding speedy “Cowboy” on the BFI’s fresh steers, which are given an 18-foot head start in a nod to old-school horsemanship skills.

For Proctor and Saebens, it wasn’t just the $84,000 payday plus prizes for second place that had them smiling. A fan made his way down to the arena after the event to have them both autograph a one-hundred-dollar bill they had signed last December at the WNFR. He’d carried it all the way to Reno.

Reno Million
A retired schoolteacher and government employee – both recreational team ropers – raked in $200,000 June at the 21st edition of the #11 Reno Million.

Jim and Peg Williams of Kingman, Ariz., both 58, caught four steers together in 38.54 seconds to win the event founded in 1996 by local real estate developer Perry Di Loreto. The roping, now owned by Ullman Peterson Events, gives equally matched amateur ropers across the country a chance at six-figure payouts.

This year’s Reno Million drew 136 teams, each of whom paid a $5,500 entry fee to compete for 80 percent of the total purse. As before, teams are screened to ensure their roper classification numbers don’t exceed 11.5.

Jim, classified as a #6 heeler, and Peg, a 4.5, were the picture of consistency, roping each of their first three steers in a long seven seconds, but picking up one penalty.

“I might have been late on our second steer; he really ran,” said Peg. “Jim roped him by a leg.”

They made the finals in the seventh call-back position and notched yet another good run before waiting patiently outside the building, hoping simply for a top-five finish. Then, one by one, all six teams ahead of them suffered a miss or a penalty. The result – the $200,000 first-place prize – was the biggest roping paycheck of their lives.

“We’ve learned to create a run,” Jim said. “All you can do is just rope your steers.”

Mr. and Mrs. Williams keep life just as simple – they just want to be able to go rope. They love it, in fact. They moved from South Dakota to Arizona in the 1990s so they could rope in the winter. They’re building a place in Wittmann, Ariz., now so they can rope in less wind. The couple, who have no children, were planning to leave Reno and head north to spend time with their friends Carl and Nancy Petersen – of course stopping at some World Series of Team Roping events in Jackson, Wyo., and Livingston, Mont., along the way.

It’s all good, “as long as we have a place to camp and rope,” Jim said.
Now that the couple has won the Reno Million, they won’t be allowed to enter it again together, per the rules. But these two hardly ever rope with other partners, despite the travails some couples have competing together.

“It’s just easier with each other,” Peg said. “Jim knows my weakness and strengths. If I neck a steer [catch around the neck], Jim knows where to ride.”

Their horses, Cowboy and Indian, played a big role in their win. Peg’s horse, 15-year-old Cowboy, was her friend Nancy Petersen’s former head horse. Jim’s mount, 10-year-old Indian, was one he finished training that originally came from Nebraska’s Haythorn Ranch.

Jim, a full-time superintendent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Peg, retired after 31 years teaching high school, were married in 1981. That’s when Peg started learning to team rope. Recently, they also nailed a $76,000 paycheck in Las Vegas at the World Series of Team Roping Finale.

The Reno Million stands alone in its design specifically for ropers like Williams and Williams. While many handicapped ropings allow youth ropers whose classifications sometimes fail to keep up with their advancing skills, all ropers in the #11 Reno Million must be adults. The event, then, matches not only skill level but also experience for amateurs attempting to win one of the richest payoffs in Western sports.

“This is an invitational event, and we hate to turn away teams, but we definitely screened out some teams we felt were too strong to enter,” said event co-owner Daren Peterson. “We work hard to give these ropers the most even playing field they’ll find across the country, and we used the same payoff format these ropers have enjoyed for years.”

Custom-made bronze trophies crafted by Montana Silversmiths were awarded for the best head horse and heel horse at the Reno Million, chosen by a committee watching throughout the day. California’s Sean Pascoe won the Head Horse award for his 12-year-old gray gelding, Blue Duck, which he raised. Incidentally, Blue Duck’s dam is an NFR head horse – the black mare formerly ridden by Lance Brooks.

The Heel Horse of the Reno Million is owned by Lou Stuart of Utah. Eight-year-old Eleven Frost (“Rapunzel”) is a palomino mare technically owned by Lou’s 5-year-old daughter, Lucy.

MORE ONLINE: Http://bit.ly/707_BFI

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