|Cook and Oliver photo by Olie's Images|
GUTHRIE, Okla. (June 24, 2020) – Because Wrangler BFI Week presented by Yeti had to be
abruptly moved from Nevada to Oklahoma in order to happen in 2020, organizers decided to let
the books stay open.
Anyone could walk up and enter the eight amateur ropings held as part of BFI
Week, anchored by the 43 rd Annual Bob Feist Invitational for professionals. It paid off for
a pair of Texans on June 23. Ricky Oliver didn’t know Russ Cook was in Guthrie until he
happened to bump into him in the Lazy E Arena about an hour before the 9.5 Over 40
roping. They decided to enter the event, now in its second year as part of the BFI Week
roster, having arrived in Guthrie to rope in the brand-new 10.5 Over 40 with other
“We’ve roped together off and on for some 15 years,” said Oliver.
The team jumped out and won the first round before taking a four-second
cushion into the short round – despite a leg penalty! A smooth final run gave them the
$50,000 win by four seconds.
“I don’t get too nervous,” said Cook, whose previous biggest single paycheck
was $16,000. “I try to get out good and catch, then look at the steer’s eye; just pick his
eye up and move out of there.”
The win felt good to Cook, who just 14 months ago was bucked off and broke
nine ribs, a collarbone and his foot. The rancher and trucking company owner from
Magnolia is known for riding nice head horses. He has about six at the moment. In this
roping he was on Casino, a 10-year-old High Brow Cat/Doc’s Hickory gelding he bought
from Neal Wood.
“I never drew a bad steer in either roping and the barrier was perfect,” said Cook,
who spends his winters jackpotting around Phoenix. “This is probably the nicest arena
in the world.”
Oliver, an electrical contractor from Huntsville, rode his 18-year-old grade
gelding, Yella, that he purchased from John Philipp.
“I was just thinking, ‘Take your first good throw,’” said Oliver, who also scored his
single biggest paycheck ever. “I think I’ll spend it wisely… roping. Actually, I was looking
at buying a new horse, and I can buy it now. Winning something at the BFI is right up
there with winning something at Las Vegas. We only had to beat 91 teams to win
Cook once entered the actual BFI, years ago, and for years he traveled the 30
hours to Reno from his home in Magnolia, Texas, for the June event. But he’d skipped
the past couple of editions, and Oliver hasn’t been to Reno in at least a dozen years.
Both ropers would love to see BFI Week stay in middle America.
The reason the event was able to relocate to the Lazy E was in part due to the
accommodation of Lazy E Ranch owner – and team roper – Gary McKinney, who also
made the 9.5 Over 40 short round with ProRodeo Hall of Fame bullfighter Rob Smets.
They had tough luck, but the roping paid every team that caught three to make the short
round, so the 9.5 Over 40 paid 17 places in the average.
Complete Results from the Cactus #9.5 Over 40 on June 23:
First Round: 1. Russ Cook and Ricky Oliver, 7.82 seconds, $3,500; 2. Keith Burd and
Dexter Scanlan, 8.42, $3,000; 3. Jack Morris and Jason O’Brien, 8.76, $2,500. Second
Round: 1. Casey Lambert and Kasey Willis, 6.47 seconds, $3,500; 2. Kent Youngblood
and Tripp Townsend, 7.14, $3,000; 3. Belo Wiley and Sal Dominguez, 7.76,
$2,500. Average: 1. Russ Cook and Ricky Oliver, 38.82 seconds on four, $50,000; 2.
Craig Moore and Jay Anthony, 42.90, $30,000; 3. Bobby Payne and Brad Thrash,
45.98, $20,000; 4. Gaylon Robinson and Mike Goad, 47.90, $15,000; 5. Tish Luke and
John Coltharp, 50.06, $10,000; 6. Justin Turner and Nelson Taylor, 50.90, $7,000; 7.
Jeremy Olsen and Sam Stephens, 51.68, $6,500; 8. Juan Gonzalez and Greg Cook,
52.64, $6,500; 9. Wayne Benefield and Blake Williamson, 60.07, $5,000; 10. Allen
Stinnett and Travis Sargent, 32.58 seconds on three, $5,000; 11. Larry Rice and Kasey
Willis, 35.41, $4,000; 12. E.J. Williams and Skip Morton, 37.51, $4,000; 13. Tres Moore
and Brandon Smith, 40.54, $3,000; 14. Kim McCracken and Randy McCracken, 42.41,
$3,000; 15. Tish Luke and Jason O’Brien, 43.67, $2,500; 16. Shawn Stovall and George
Holder, 45.75, $2,500; 17. Gary McKinney and Rob Smets, 46.07, $2,500.
Press Release provided by Julie Mankin, Ullman-Peterson Events
Photo: Olie's Images