Ropers Sports News • March 2019

By Dru Stewart Special to Ropers Sports News HAMILTON, TX – The 21st anniver- sary of one of the greatest ropings in the industry is in the books, held January 31 through February 3. The WildFire XXI broke new ground in 2019 by adding some new additions to an already great lineup of events and paying out over $536,500. Sticking to the tradition set forth by Billy Pipes and his crew in Salado, the WildFire kicked-off with a sponsors Pro/Am, a steak dinner, open bar, and live band, and con- tinued through the weekend with the Open to the World, an All Ladies roping, and the esteemed #11.5 Businessman’s Roping. Those events are the core of the four-day roping extravaganza, but this year there were some added twists along the way. As always, the Wildfire showcased all of the great sponsors and partners of the weekend with the Pro/Am. This exclusive roping is designed for those individuals who partner with the WildFire and their children, family, and friends. Chad Ha- vens, who owns Bridgefield Electric and Precision Hydrovac, has been a long-time partner with the WildFire and could not come rope due to shoulder surgery. He gave his spots to Hali and Gabe Williams, son and daughter of 8-time World Champi- on header Speedy Williams. Hali ended up winning the heading side with partner Jake Long while Gabe took the heeling honors pulling pipes for Coleman Proctor. “I wasn’t even planning on roping in it this year,” said Hali. “Chad just called and said he couldn’t rope this year and told me to take one of his spots. It worked out pretty well.” The two went home with $1,000 apiece and the one-of-a-kind black Cactus Saddlery parade saddles adorned with nearly $7,000 worth of Montana Sil- versmiths custom silver. The Pros, being warmed up from the Pro/Am, tightened back up for the Open to the World which paid out $110,250. Forty- nine of the top teams in the world stuck out six rounds on hard running cattle. The top honors went to Clay Smith and Jake Long with a 39.92 on six to split $30,000 and the WildFire buckles. This was Clay’s third time to win the WildFire and Jake’s second year in a row to take home top honors. The night rolled on with the first ever Rope Like a Girl Walking Fresh Break- away Roping. This brand new addition to the WildFire was awesome to watch as the girls battled against 400 weight fresh yearlings over four rounds. Abby Hampton smoked four with a 15.45 on four and won $5,000 plus a buckle, tooled rope can, and a Charlie One Horse hat. The ladies roped for nearly $20,000 and also could opt in to qualify for the 2019 American. Gunslinger Friday kicked off with an- other open which Clay Smith won this time heading for Junior Nogueira. The team split $10,000 and walked away with custom tooled Yeti Coolers. The #15 six-header was won by Stran Morris and Dustin Searcy, who split $11,000 and the #13 5-header was won by Don Lee and Zach Bocco, who split $10,000. The final roping of the day was for the ladies and it was won by Jackie Crawford and Annette Stahl. The girls won beautiful buckles and split $7,260. Saturday was the big daddy – the #11.5 Businessman’s WSTR Super Qualifier. This roping had a total of 341 teams and paid out over $197,000. With 34 chances at cash, the Businessman’s was a catch- ing match for a ton of dough. The win- ners, Gary and Dustin Johnson, took home $35,000 and trophy Cactus Saddles. The consolation winners, Brad Bottom and Scott Riley, split $5,000 and everyone in the top 20 got a minimum of their fees back. Sunday was a #9.5 clone of the #11.5. The WildNine was new this year and ex- tremely successful featuring 126 teams who roped for a total pot of $72,600. The first year champions were a pair of re- 24060 N. Ray Rd., Lodi, CA 95242 • 209-333-2924 • • R OPERS S PORTS N EWS MARCH 2019 V OL . 51, N O . 4 $2.50 “The Original Team Roping Publication” Postage Pre-Paid O FFICIAL P UBLICATION O F : • California ACTRA • California $hoot-Outs • NCJRA Wrangler BFI Week Announces Changes #11 Revamped, #9.5 Over-40 Added, All-Girl Format Changed See story on page 10 WildFire Pro-Am winners: Pro header Coleman Proctor and Am heeler Gabe Williams; Am header Hali Williams and Pro heeler Jake Long. Gabe and Hali are the children of eight-time PRCA world champion header Speed Williams. – Olie’s Images WildFire XXI Pays Out Over Half Million tired bull riders! Ricky Bolin, 4-time NFR qualifier and president of Resistol Hats, turned four great steers for PBR bull rider Markus Mariluch. The roughies won $17,000, new saddles and bragging rights for a year. Chad Cleburn and Wacey Sand- ers took home the consolation win and their share of $4,000. The 2019 WildFire XXI was a huge success, with six one-of-a-kind saddles, 20 Skyline bits, 54 Montana Silversmiths buckles, bits, and knives, and over a half- million in cash. The roping was more than a jackpot and featured off-the-charts hos- pitality for the sponsors and ropers. “It is my goal to put on an event not just another jackpot.” Dru Stewart says. “The atmosphere at the Circle T is so fun, See WILDFIRE On Page 16

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