By Kendra Santos
Texans Chick Wilfong and Todd Thompson struck it rich and banked $180,000 for roping four steers in 32.58 seconds at the 2022 BFI 12.5 Oilfield Classic. Held April 3 at the Fabulous Lazy E in Guthrie, Oklahoma, the 323-team Oilfield Classic paid like a slot machine with a twist—which was that it was only open to ropers 21 and over.
“This is the BFI, and there’s nothing else like it,” said Wilfong, 49, who lives in Avoca, Texas, with his wife, Jodi. “Success at the BFI is what every roper aspires to. It’s not the open, but it might as well be to us.”
Wilfong, who stays super busy doing 50-75 comedy shows a year and running his own construction company in addition to cows and yearlings, is a 5+ header and a 4+ heeler. His heeler is a 7 heeler who “never heads.”
“I never dreamed of winning money like this roping,” said Thompson, who calls Munday, Texas home. “To back in the box for $90,000 a man at 53—it’s incredible what’s happened to this sport.”
Intercollegiate superstar sprinter Thompson leaned on his sports history when he and Wilfong rode in to rope their last steer at third high callback. Though he was ranch-raised, he went to Baylor University on a track scholarship and set his ropes aside for a few years as a young man.
Thompson’s roommate on the road all four years of college was five-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson. The speedster legend served as Todd’s best man when he married his wife, Kelly. Thompson was a six-time All American in track, and ran on two national championship four-by-four relay teams.
“At the level we ran at in college, I was put in a lot of high-pressure situations that prepared me for situations like we were in today,” Todd said. “I ran against Olympians, and that’s helped me handle my nerves in all aspects of life.”
After college, Thompson returned to his ranching roots. Todd and his brothers, Tyler and Trey, run 1,600-1,700 cows as Thompson Ranches. Todd and Kelly have four kids, Chace, Tori, Tyson and Kreece, and the three boys have roped since they could walk.
Chace was the 2013 Resistol Rookie Header of the Year, and headed for brother Tyson at this year’s BFI. Kreece—who’s a rodeo rookie this year—headed for Chad Williams at BFI ’22, and they missed the 15-team short round by one hole at 16th.
Thompson laughed at where his $90,000 was headed.
“One of the boys may have already found a horse he wants to buy,” he said. “Everything is geared toward them now.”
For those of you wondering about family ties on the heading side here, Chick Wilfong is the son of the late Harry Wilfong and the nephew of renowned bronc and bareback rider Bob Wilfong. In fact, this Saturday, April 9, Chick will be giving Uncle Bob’s acceptance speech at the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Fort Worth. And yes, Chick is named after legendary bareback rider Chick Elms, who was his dad’s best friend in college.
Former tie-down roper Chick Wilfong won the Oilfield Classic riding a 10-year-old R.A. Brown Ranch-raised sorrel horse he calls Oscar. Thompson rode a 14-year-old red-roan horse he calls Playdough, who’s an own son of Peptoboonsmal. He bought him as a 3-year-old, and rode him on the ranch a couple years before taking him to the arena.
Wilfong and Thompson have roped together quite a bit, and only live about 40 miles apart. They stay on the same page, so didn’t even need to pow wow before their high-team steer.
“Our plan is always the same,” Wilfong said. “We just want to be winning it when we ride out. This is a big win, and continued improvement is always my next goal. Onward and upward. I always want to keep reaching. I was successful as a calf roper, because I never was satisfied without being all I could be. That mindset just spilled over into my team roping.”
Wilfong and Thompson both journeyed to the Lazy E early to watch the BFI. Naturally, Thompson was pulling for his three sons, as was Wilfong. Chick also cheered for another personal favorite.
“I was pulling for Joseph Harrison, 100 percent,” Chick said. “He’s helped me so much with my roping. I practiced with him this week, and we roped in the #15.5 here. The look on Joseph’s face when they told him he won Heel Horse of the BFI was priceless. It was clearly the culmination of a dream. It was really cool.”
Thompson’s placed several times at the World Series of Team Roping Finale in Las Vegas, and “won a pickup roping one time.”
“But this is my biggest win, no doubt about it,” he beamed. “My main roping goal at this point in my life is to try and keep my son Tyson in horses. We have seven or eight heel horses between us. I can’t really help Chace or Kreece with head horses, because I don’t head. But I can help with riding heel horses, and get the ones that need it to some ropings.”
“Winning this roping is very surreal,” Wilfong said after it was over late Sunday night. “It hasn’t soaked in yet. But I do have an idea what I’m going to do with all this money. I just bought a new skid steer for my construction company. I think I’ll just walk into the bank tomorrow and pay it off.”
12.5 Oilfield Classic Results
Average: 1. Chick Wilfong and Todd Thompson, 32.58 on four, $180,000; 2. Tim Robinson and Jerry Skaggs, 32.90, $120,000; 3. John J Thompson and Levi Pettigrew, 33.22, $80,000; 4. Wyatt Rita and Chaz Rita, 33.77, $60,000; 5. Granger Insco and Chad E Martin, 33.79, $40,000; 6. Denver Collins and Steve Mauldin, 34.25, $30,000; 7. Mel Smith and Tee Woolman, 34.61, $20,000; 8. Matthew Barnes and Jabin Rice, 34.91, $18,000; 9. Emily Gately and Zack Woods, 34.94, $16,000; 10. Chance Hanna and Brent Mays, 35.06, $15,000; 11. Hunter Stanley and Darrell Tatum, 35.10, $13,000; 12. Mickey Miller and Danny Teel, 35.50, $11,000; 13. Matthew Barnes and Jeff Hilton, 35.69, $10,000; 14. Luke Dufrene and Guy Norris, 35.86 $9,000; 15. Sage Lamunyon and Mitch Murray, 36.66, $8,000; 16. Nathan Poss and Jon Pudwill, 39.28, $7,000; 17. Mike Row and David Miller, 39.29, $6,000; 18. Brother Campbell and Derrick Davis, 39.71, $6,000; 19. Heithe Williams and Taylor Biggs, 40.63, $5,000; 20. Darin Simpson and Rodney Wilcox, 40.88 $5,000
First Round: 1. David Berry and Adam Hubler, 6.22 , $5,000; 2. Joshua Bray and Gary Hughes, 6.78 , $4,000; 3. Ricky Mellman and Trent W Ward, 6.80 , $3,000
Second Round: 1. Clint Peverley and Clinton I Jackson, 6.30, $5,000; 2. Jim Matlack and Jay Ellerman, 6.40, $4,000; 3. Donald Wilson and Nick Deleon, 6.44, $3,000
Short Round: 1. Hunter Stanley and Darrell Tatum, 7.26, $4,000; 2. Emily Gately and Zack Woods, 7.37 , $2,500; 3. Mickey Miller and Danny Teel, 7.37, $2,500