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Luke Brown and Jake Long were 40.91 on six head to win the 20th Annual Wildfire Open Roping. The pair won $30,000. Roping producer Dru Stewart (r) presents the awards. Photo by Olie’s Images

By Dru Stewart
Special To Ropers Sports News

The “Big-Four.” As team ropers, we all dreamed about backing in the boxes in OKC, Boerne, Reno, and Salado. The scary news is, we almost lost three of these great events in 2018. The Strait is no more, the USTRC is going through a massive overhaul, and the WildFire was going to snuff its flame in 2017 after 19 years. 

 That was all before Dru Stewart made a phone call in May to his good pal Billy Pipes and asked about throwing some gas back on the flames and keeping the WildFire alive for years to come. The two made an agreement that ultimately led to a reboot of one of the greatest roping weekends in Texas! The WildFire XX emerged bigger and stronger with updates specifically designed for ropers of all skill levels plus hospitality and a venue that is second to none.

The 30,000 feet view of the weekend looked like this: First of all, the roping relocated to the best venue in Texas – the Circle T Arena in Hamilton. There were 964 total teams. $464,000 in cash payout for the main ropings. 20 Yeti Coolers, 16 Montana Silversmiths buckles, 16 sets of spurs, 16 handmade Skyline bits, 16 engraved knives, and two custom black leather with sterling silver Cactus Saddlery parade saddles. A total prize package worth and additional $40,000 for the ropers. Speaking of being for the ropers, the WildFire also added back $12,000 in the Pro/Am (half of that to the open ropers) plus an additional $12,000 to the first ever Classic vs. Cactus Invitational match. The total haul for team opers was $488,000 in cash plus $40,000 in prizes for a grand total of $528,000! A little ol’ half million to celebrate 20 years. Not too shabby.

On the micro level, the action started off on Thursday afternoon when we invited all of our sponsors to a four-hour practice session with the help of Jake Long, Chad Masters, Clay O’Brien Cooper and Travis Graves to name a few. The sponsors Pro/Am kicked off the weekend that night followed by the Classic vs. Cactus Duels (Team Classic took home the $12,000), a complimentary steak dinner and drinks for basically anyone who was in the building, and music by Lindsey Cardinale and her band. The goal was a hospitality driven event. Not just another jackpot team roping.

Friday was for the high-numbered ropers. The #16 and #15 both had right at 80 teams which made for huge payouts in both. With first place in the #16 going to Jake Orman and Colton Herrera with a 39.67 on six winning $21,000. The #15 champions, Dalton and Hunter Titsworth, split $10,000 and tangled five steers in 35.31. The WildFire Open to the World champions, Luke Brown and Jake Long captured six steers clean in 40.91 and split $30,000 cash for the win.

Saturday was the big day. 210 pick teams entered for a total team count of 420 in the 20th rendition of “The Businessman’s.” This #11 pick and draw was the largest it has been in years and had a total payout of over $231,000. The three steer consolation was won by Rey David Quinonez and Eloy Andujo for $5,000, but the big winners of the day were the pick team of Alan Chappell and David Fletcher with a 32.76 on four. The team split $43,000 for the win. This roping paid 20 places in the average, five in the consolation, two monies in each rotation and a short-round fast time. Overall there were 68 checks given out in this World Series Super Qualifier along with the top 10 in the average getting qualification slots to the WSTR Finale in Vegas. Saturday night was capped off with the Charlie 1 Horse Ladies Only with Lydia Townson and Ashley Richardson taking home top honors and $7,950. The #11 Incentive winners were the daughter and mother team of Rylea Fabrizio and Debbie Fabrizio who took home $1,500. 

Super Bowl Sunday at the WildFire wrapped up the weekend with Chase Sandstrom and Jay Hipp winning the #9 with a 25.29 on three, splitting $5,410. The #8 was won by Christy Lee and Billy Jones, splitting $3,910 with a 25.20 on three head.

I have been fortunate to call the action at many of the best ropings for the best producers in the world, from the BFI to the Finale in Vegas. Having the opportunity to work alongside the leaders of this industry has taught me a great deal, but it is always different when you take the reins on the entire event. I believe the weekend was a major success due to the feedback from the ropers, the staff, and our sponsors. I cannot thank everyone, from ropers to staff, enough. We also heard your suggestions and will definitely be making some payout and minor changes to the Friday ropings to make them better for the ropers next year. We will also move the All-Girl to Sunday morning so Saturday isn’t a marathon. The event went off hitch-free and we can’t wait to do it again next year at the 21st annual WildFire Team Roping. Once again, on behalf of our sponsors, my family, and the crew at the WildFire, we thank everyone that attended and we will see you next year!

Results follow; payoff is per team:

Sponsors Pro-Am

Pro Headers/Am Heelers: Average: 1. Chad Masters and Jared Stevens, 41.75, $2,000. 2. Chad Masters and Brook Styron, 53.55, $1,500. 3. Chad Masters and Ryan Gift, 35.97, $1,000. 4. Colton Brittain and Randall Trevino, 22.07, $500. 5. Trevor Brazile and KD Kaigler, 24.04.

Pro Heelers/Am Headers: 

1st go: 1. Jason Burson and Jake Long, 6.69, $500. 2. Josh Johnson and Casey Chamberlain, 6.81, $300. 3. Charlie Gorzalka and Junior Nogueira, 6.88, $200.

2nd go: 1. Fisher Underbrink and Jake Long, 6.06, $500. 2. Jason Burson and Jake Long, 6.26, $300. 3. Danny Massingill and Logan Medlin, 6.47, $200.

Average: 1. Charlie Gorzalkz and Junior Nogueira, 28.71, $2,000. 2. Josh Johnson and Casey Chamberlain, 28.78, $1,500. 3. Hali Williams and Junior Nogueira, 30.62, $1,000. 4. Kennidy Nicholson and Logan Medlin, 31.06, $500. 5. Fisher Underbrink and Jake Long, 31.93.

#16 Roping champions were Jake Orman and Colton Herrera. They garnered $21,000 in cash plus great awards. Roping producer Dru Stewart presents their awards.  – Photo by Olie’s Images

#16 6-Steer

1st go: 1. Jake Orman and Colton Herrera, 5.87, $2,000. 2. Sawyer Barham and Jake Long, 5.98, $1,000.

2nd go: 1. Twister Vinson and Truman Magnus, 5.47, $2,000. 2. Twister Vinson and Dustin Egusquiza, 5.67, $1,000.

3rd go: 1. Sawyer Barham and Junior Nogueira, 5.03, $2,000. 2. Tee Luttrell and Andrew Hill, 5.58, $1,000.

Short go: 1. Tyler Magnus and Truman Magnus, 5.49, $2,000.

Average: 1. Jake Orman and Colton Herrera, 39.67, $21,000. 2. Garett Chick and Truman Magnus, 40.86, $15,750. 3. Wesley Thorp and Blaine Vick, 41.35, $10,500. 4. Tyler Magnus and Zane Bruce, 43.83, $5,250.

Open 6-Steer

1st go: 1. Kolton Schmidt and Cole Davison, 6.39, $5,000. 

2nd go: 1. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, 6.238, $5,000.

3rd go: 1. Garrett Tonozzi and Blaine Vick, 5.26, $5,000.

Short go: 1. Shane Philipp and Joel Bach, 5.18, $2,500.

Average: 1. Luke Brown and Jake Long, 40.91, $30,000. 2. Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp, 42.81, $18,000. 3. Tyler Wade and Trey Yates, 44.02, $12,000.

#15 5-Steer

1st go: 1. Garett Chick and Cody Falcon, 5.78, $1,000.

2nd go: 1. Twister Vinson and Andrew Hill, 5.39, $1,000.

Short go: 1. Cole Davison and Kasper Roy, 5.76, $1,000.

Average: 1. Dalton Titsworth and Hunter Titsworth, 35.31, $10,000. 2. Garett Chick and Montrel Gilder, 35.85, $7,000. 3. Wyatt Bray and Whit Kitchens, 38.55, $5,500. 4. Lane Goebel and Wyatt Hansen, 39.65, $4,000. 5. Thomas Braman and Manny Egusquiza, 40.24, $2,500.

The #11 Businessman Roping was the biggest paying roping of the WildFire weekend with the champions, Alan Chappell and David Fletcher, winning $43,000 in cash plus awards.  – Photo by Olie’s Images

#11 Businessman’s Pick & Draw 4-Steer

Rotation 1 FT: 1. Brandon Wilson and Hunter Mason, 6.51, $2,000. 2. Alan Chappell and David Fletcher, 6.52, $1,000.

Rotation 2 FT: 1. Hootie Cornett and Abel Garcia, 6.02, $2,000. 2. Kirby Hill and Hunter Mason, 6.08, $1,000.

Rotation 3 FT: 1. Jimmy Ruiz and Jason James, 6.59, $2,000. 2.Mark Foley and Margaret Foley, 6.75, $1,000.

Rotation 4 FT: 1. Randy Gaydos and Stormy Wolf, 6.63, $2,000. 2. Brandi Hines and Steve Mauldin, 6.74, $1,000.

Short go FT: 1. Mary Ann Brown and David Fletcher, 8.37, $3,000.

Consolation Average: 1. Rey David Quinonez and Eloy Andujo, 22.69, $5,000. 2. Jody O’Brien and Tracy Glover, 22.92, $4,000. 3. Max Ramsey and Randy Lewis, 23.2, $3,000. 4. Eddie Moreno and Jose Luis Ramirez, 24.4, $2,000. 5. Jerry Bailey and Tom Clark, 26.05, $1,000.

Average: 1. Alan Chappell and David Fletcher, 32.76, $43,000. 2. Lee Newman and Lloyd South, 33.4, $32,240. 3. Brandon Wilson and Hunter Mason, 33.53, $23,260. 4. Jason Perry and Garrett Nokes, 34.1, $19,700. 5. Brent Mays and Scott Seiler, 34.6, $16,120. 6. Eddie Moreno and Lorraine Moreno, 34.77, $12,540. 7. Kenny Knox and Steve Mauldin, 35.11, $10,740. 8. Kevin Simoneaux and Greg Robertson, 35.59, $8,950. 9. Joe Espy and Jake Stephenson, 35.88, $7,160. 10. Duke Barker and Bruce Brandon, 36.76, $5,370.

The Ladies Only once again proved to be a huge draw with eventual winners being Lydia Martin and Ashley Richardson. They roped their four steers in a time of 41.4 to win $7,950 plus great prizes. – Photo by Olie’s Images

Ladies Only

Short go FT: Kelsey Mosby and Margaret Foley, 8.48, $500.

Incentive: 1. Rylea Fabrizio and Debbie Fabrizio, 25.38, $1,500. 2. Martha Angelone and Sarah Angelone, 26.98, $1,000. 3. Lydia Townson and Ashley Richardson, 28.57, $500.

Average: 1. Lydia Martin and Ashley Richardson, 41.4, $7,950. 2. Maddie Webb and Jessy Remsburg, 41.59, $5,550. 3. Keli Hatley and Becky Cannizzaro, 43.89, $4,100. 4. Taylor Schmidt and Debbie Fabrizio, 45.89, $2,850. 5. Erica Lozares and Sky Parmer, 46.71, $2,150. 6. Taryn Krantz and Skylar Southerland, 46.96, $1,500.

#9 Pick & Draw

1st go: 1. Rex Hudspeth and Jeremy Surber, 7.03, $600. 2. Adrian Arispe and Jeremy Surber, 7.3, $400.

Short go: 1. Craig Moore and Jeremy Surber, 11.78, $600.

Average: 1. Chase Sandstrom and Jay Hipp, 25.29, $5,410. 2. Adrian Arispe and Jeremy Surber, 27.64, $3,770. 3. Bubba Nixa and Layne Rogers, 28.99, $2,790. 4. Adrian Arispe and Jerod Martinez, 29.45, $1,970. 5. Rickey Kuhn and Chris Henderson, 30.04, $1,480. 6. Jason Lee Farmer and Jeff Petska, 32.7, $980.

#8 Pick & Draw (4s only)

1st go: 1. Jaxon Booth and Chase Sandstrom, 7.01, $600. 2. Craig Moore and Pt Earles, 7.87, $400.

Short go: 1. Jimmy Cox and Chris Keese, 11.11, $600.

Average: 1. Christy Lee and Billy Jones, 25.2, $3,910. 2. Sonny Ainsworth and Edgar Wislar, 32.32, $2,720. 3. Christy Lee and Josh Johnson, 35.26, $2,010. 4. Juan Gonzales and Steve Phillips, 35.64, $1,420. 5. Christy Lee and Joe James, 38.31, $1,070. 6. Jackson Roberts and Joe James, 38.88, $710.