At the Charlie 1 Horse All-Girl Challenge Team Roping on June 24, Whitney DeSalvo of Springfield, Arkansas, left no doubt about her status as the world’s best female heeler.
DeSalvo, just 25, took the top three placings with three different partners to haul a staggering $28,875 in cash back to Arkansas plus a truckload of prizes. The three-time WPRA world champion won the roping with Hope Thompson of Abilene, Texas, who raked in $20,750 total.
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“I just tried to rope every steer,” said DeSalvo, whose mare bucked on the very first run of the day, after which DeSalvo caught 11 of 11 steers on the second hop. “I didn’t even know what my times were.”
Wrangler BFI Week, presented by Yeti, kicked off in Guthrie on June 20 and was anchored by the 43 Bob Feist Invitational (BFI) for the pros on June 21. The five-day event paid out roughly $3 million in cash and prizes and was live-streamed on the Wrangler Network. It was moved to the Lazy E Arena due to a pandemic-forced closure of its usual venue in Reno, Nevada.
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Annually the richest all-female team roping in the country, this year’s Charlie 1 Horse Challenge fielded a record 184 teams from as far away as Arizona. The roping can be entered twice and has a pick-one/draw-one format that draws each contestant one extra partner.
DeSalvo, classified as a 7.5, had recently worked on roping more aggressively. She continues to stay in touch with former PRCA world champion heeler Paul Eaves, for whom she worked years ago. In 2019, she was the lone female to team rope in the short round at the College National Finals Rodeo.
In Guthrie at the high callback position, Thompson had to fish her head loop on, but DeSalvo said watching her partner split the horns meant she wasn’t nervous anymore. The pair salvaged a 9.72-second run for a four-head total that edged DeSalvo’s time with legendary world champ Lari Dee Guy by just two-tenths of a second.
“I heard my partner holler, ‘You got him, you got him,’ so I turned off,” said Thompson. “I actually had a feeling this morning we were going to win it. It feels just like 2017 for us.”
Thompson and DeSalvo won that year’s WPRA world championship together. DeSalvo trains roping horses and works for an Arkansas couple, mentoring their young sons in roping. Thompson and Guy are professional ropers, too, and partners in their horse training business in Abilene. In Guthrie, Thompson was riding an 8-year-old sorrel called Andre that has barrel-horse breeding and was started as a 4-year-old by Guy.
While the Charlie 1 Horse team roping is open to the world, it also offers a #9.5 Incentive. The stand-alone competition is a sidepot with no extra fees for ropers with handicaps totaling 9.5 or less.
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In Guthrie, Adrienne Picou of Carthage, Texas, happened to draw Thompson and the pair were the fastest Incentive team. Their time of 27.87 seconds on the first three steers won them $7,500 and made them sixth callback in the short round (where Picou missed).
“That’s what I like about this roping, is that you get a chance to draw some of these great ropers,” said Picou, an orthopedic surgical implant technician. “This was my first BFI and I was super excited I won money.”
Thompson has entered the Charlie 1 Horse Challenge for years, but this was her first victory.
[READ: At Home with Whitney DeSalvo]
[LISTEN: Whitney DeSalvo on The Score]
“This is one of those ropings that’s a goal for any girl who team ropes,” she said. “The BFI is one you really want to win. The steers were great, and the start was, too.”
Because Thompson, Picou and DeSalvo had nominated the All-Girl Challenge, they also earned direct berths to the Fast Track rounds of the World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA) inaugural Women’s Rodeo World Championship this November in Las Vegas. The event at the South Point Hotel and Casino guarantees a $136,000 payout in each of breakaway, heading, heeling and barrel racing, plus a $20,000 bonus to the women’s all-around champion.
For more information, visit www.bfiweek.com.
Complete results of the 2020 Charlie 1 Horse Team Roping:
First Round: 1. Taylor Munsell and Martha Angelone, 7.26 seconds, $1,000; 2. Kayla Graham and Bailey Newsome, 7.59, $750; 3. Lari Dee Guy and Annette Stahl, 7.63, $500. Second Round: 1. Randi Holliday and Chelsey Bushnell, 6.45 seconds, $1,000; 2. Leigh Sherwood and Whitney DeSalvo, 6.67, $750; 3. Lari Dee Guy and Megan Gunter, 6.96, $500. Short Round (that didn’t place in the average): 1. Jackie Crawford and Morgan Sturgeon, 7.32 seconds, $1,000; 2. Jamie Townsend and Michelle Dyer, 7.43, $750. #9 Incentive Average: 1. Hope Thompson and Adrienne Picou, 27.87 seconds on three, $7,500; 2. Erica Lozares and Michelle Wilson, 29.30, $3,000; 3. Christa Carter and Annette Stahl, 29.64, $1,500; 4. Teri Stamper and Brittany Stamper, 32.10, $1,000; 5. Kelsey Berry and Serena Dahozy, 33.52, $800. Average: 1. Hope Thompson and Whitney DeSalvo, 33.38 seconds, $30,000; 2. Lari Dee Guy and Whitney DeSalvo, 33.58, $16,000; 3. Audrey Hart and Whitney DeSalvo, 36.01, $11,000; 4. Debbie Robbins and Danielle Lowman, 38.53, $9,500; 5. Christa Carter and Annette Stahl, 38.64, $7,500; 6. Hope Thompson and Rylie Smith, 40.86, $4,000; 7. Teri Stamper and Brittany Stamper, 42.59, $3,500; 8. Erica Lozares and Michelle Wilson, 42.85, $3,000; 9. Halie Richey and Emilee Moyer, 43.88, $2,500; 10. Bethanie Shofner and Abbie Shofner, 44.67, $2,000.