At Long Last

Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira Are Finally BFI Champions in 2024.
Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira won $162,000 for roping six steers in 44.76 seconds at the 2024 BFI.
Kaleb Driggers Junior Nogueira BFI Victory Lap
Driggers and Nogueira make an electric victory lap at the Lazy E Arena after winning the 2024 Bob Feist Invitational and $162,000. | Andersen/CBarC Photography

Bob Feist Invitational announcers Dru Stewart and Reed Flake repeated their request for Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira to re-enter the Lazy E Arena and make their victory lap over and over after the duo had won $162,000 at the 2024 BFI, roping six steers in 44.76 seconds March 30 in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

But it took what seemed like forever for the two-time world championship team to break free from the crowd of fellow ropers who mobbed them after the biggest jackpot win of their storied careers—careers that amount to over $5 million in collective PRCA earnings, six $100,000 American Rodeo paydays (four for Driggers, two for Nogueira) and nearly every major rodeo and jackpot title in the sport.

In 16 prior BFI appearances for Driggers and 10 for Nogueira, the Feist and its six-figure payday had eluded them. And the mass of professional team ropers all watching the short round at the bottom end of the Lazy E Arena were all overwhelmed with the significance of the moment the greatest team of the generation sealed the deal on their first BFI win.

“That roping means so much to everybody who ropes,” Driggers said. “Growing up watching the old tapes, dreaming of it, everyone realized what it means to us.”

They clinched the win at third callback, roping their short round steer in 6.84 seconds, the third fastest time of a tough, tight short round.

“The better the start that I could get would give us a better opportunity,” Driggers, 34, from Hoboken, Georgia, said. “I thought if we could go some kind of a 6-second run that we would have a good chance to win it, because it was so tight. Those guys rope great, and this isn’t an easy setup just to knock a 6-second run out. So that was kind of my game plan was. Smart, but try to get a good start at the line as well. And we just kind of stuck to the same thing in the run. We just went and caught him… You don’t take this roping. You have to let this roping come to you. And that’s one thing we did different today—we allowed the steers to come to us.”

Kaleb Driggers Junior Nogueira BFI Short Round 2024

Driggers had only won $34,100 in nearly two decades at the Feist, while Nogueira had won $57,250 since his first appearance in 2014 (behind Jake Barnes).

“We want to go catch him and win, or try to win,” Nogueira, 33, from Presidente Prudente, Sao Paolo, Brazil, added. “Especially me, I was just trying to get through the day and do my job, you know, just try to get focused and just go through the roping and catch all the steers. But that last one, that was a good run. We’re going fast, but the steer was good. Man, we’re rolling up there, but I thought felt like it was a good run.”

Their 44.76-second win was the fastest average time in the Lazy E since the Feist moved to the famous arena in 2020. Pair that with the hard-running Mexican cattle that only allowed one 4-second run in all of 2024’s competition (Tyler Wade and Wesley Thorp in Round 6 for the Rickey Green Fast-Time Award), and their win is even more impressive. But that’s not it.

Unlikely Timing

Driggers and Nogueira are coming off their most unusual winter as a duo yet. This year, at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Nogueira was far from the explosive and unstoppable heeler he’s always been inside the Thomas & Mack, and fans were left questioning what was going on with the 2016 All-Around Champ of the World.

“I always had really bad sinus and allergies, and I always use the (nasal) sprays for years, and that’s what kind of kept me going,” Nogueira explained. “I make a little hole behind my retina. So then it started leaking through into my eye. And it got worse and worse, and my vision was really, really blurry. I’m not, no excuses. I should have done a better job, but it was kind of like out of my reach.”

Nogueira came home from the Finals needing surgery, so he ducked off the radar of ProRodeo and social media, and in January he underwent sinus surgery that had him sleeping upright in a recliner and unable to rope until the American Contender Finals in Abilene, Texas, in February. Driggers pieced together the start of his winter rodeo run without his brother in arms, placing at Odessa’s Sandhills Stock Show and Rodeo with Paul Eaves and Fort Worth with Jake Minor.

“I found runs, and I was appreciative for them going and roping with me, but it’s just not the same as roping with him just because of our bond,” Driggers said. “It has nothing to do with the roping or anything like that. He heels great, but at the same time, it’s his and our bond together. And I knew that his passion is roping, and he wasn’t doing it. I knew that he would be okay, and I knew that everything, it would all work out. But at the same time anytime you know a loved one struggling, then you take it on yourself to a little bit.”

Nogueira bounced back for checks at San Antonio, RodeoHouston, Las Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson, Rodeo Austin and Waxahachie, Texas, but they hadn’t quite had the dynamite win they’d grown accustomed to since Nogueira’s return. But their steady veteran maturity kept them plugging away as a team.

“I’m feeling a lot better,” Nogueira said. “We still have a little road ahead of us. I was looking forward to winning this roping forever. Even coming from Brazil, we always watched this roping… I was just trying to get through my steers, ride my horse the best I could, trying not to be panicked, and just let the roping come to me. That’s a personal win. This was for myself. Just to get it done here and do your job all day, and finish the day.”

@teamropingjournal

That’s one off the bucket list for @Kaleb Driggers Official and @Junior Nogueira- Official . They’re your 2024 Bob Feist Invitational champions, and it was WORTH the wait. Full results and story coming up on deck on our website from the @Lazy E Arena. #TeamRoping #KalebDriggers #JuniorNogueira #Cowboy #Roping

♬ Can’t Stop Us Now – Pitbull & Zac Brown

Driggers’ BFI Horsepower

Driggers won the roping on Chics Like Hickey, the 9-year-old son of Hick Chickaroo out of Dee Bars Lust by Dee Bar Rock. “Oliver” has been Driggers’ go-to jackpot mount, and the win at the BFI put an early exclamation point on the horse’s career.

Chics Like Hickey

“I would venture to say that Oliver is the most underrated jackpot head horse that has ever lived,” Driggers said. “I just won three holes on him last week at a 4-second roping. And then we came over here, see him out two foot past the end of the gate and six head. And he gives you the same chance every single time, and I honestly wish that I would have done a better job of calculating how much I’ve actually won on that horse, because I rode on him a little bit last summer, but he’s not a rodeo horse, he’s a jackpot horse. I think it would shock me to know exactly how much I’ve won on him, because I’ve rode him a lot.”

The horse came from Los Olivos, California—hometown of NFR average champion Cody Snow. Snow bought him and took him to Texas, where NFR header Lane Ivy then bought the horse. Ivy sold him to Driggers in a moment of weakness, and the rest is history.

“He was 5-years-old, and I went over there, and I run two steers on him,” Driggers said. “He felt like a fire breathing dragon. But I just—from the very first day—I knew he had something special.”

Nogueira’s Lucky Bucky

Junior Nogueira was on the buckskin gelding aboard whom he won his 2022 PRCA World Title—Lucky Bucky, who came from Cesar de la Cruz. The 14-year-old gelding is registered as Smokin Copper King by Imps Specialdelivery out of the Dakotas Integrity mare And The Beat Goes On.

Smokin Copper King Pedigree Lucky Bucky Junior Nogueira

“He’s so fast, he’s probably the one of the fastest,” Nogueira said. “Hali (Nogueira’s mare) was really fast for the long setups, but he can really run. And he runs fast, but he don’t feel like, you know, he’s running. So he kind of like runs so fast, but he floats and make it easy to you. And he hit the turn so good, so I’ll need a little help just to take my time to catch the steers, and he’s still a little free. And, uh, he’s a little dancey, but I don’t think there’s any faster horse than that horse.”

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Added Bonus

Driggers didn’t just win the roping—he also won fourth in the enter-once jackpot when Dakota Kirchenschlager finished the day at 47.7 seconds on six behind Colby Lovell, riding Driggers’ stud Metallic Payday.

Metallic Payday Kaleb Driggers

“Dakota’s been doing a really good job with him,” Driggers said. “And what’s hard is for him is, you know, he’s having to go back and forth from breeding farm.”

Kirchenschlager picked the stud up at Outlaw Equine Friday after being collected, and he’ll drop him back off Sunday for his Monday collection. The 7-year-old son of Metallic Cat out of the Freckles Playboy mare Another Playgirl was the Reserve World Champion Heel Horse in the American Rope Horse Futurity Association in 2023, and he’d won $63,294 in his show career according to QData. After The Feist, QData will add $29,500 to his LTE.

“And Colby was riding a stud of Griffin Marshall’s and Clint Summers’ that, you know, they just bought, and one is 7 and one is 8,” Driggers added. “And it shows you how handy those guys are at the same time, you know, to be able to keep those horses composed and in this tough of a setup. But I thought that both of them handled it extremely well. I think they both have a very exciting future for them.”

Lovell rode SEVS Judgement Day, a 2015 son of Judge Cash out of Dancing Kaweah Jet by Gray Dancer, a horse he will continue to season in 2024 for Summers and Marshall.

TRJ—

Full Results from The Feist

Aggregate 
PlacingTime (on 6)HeaderHeelerMoney
144.76Kaleb DriggersJunior Nogueira$160,000
245.2Clay SmithColeby Payne$100,000
346.77Ketch KeltonDenton Dunning$76,000
447.7Colby LovellDakota Kirchenschlager$55,000
547.97Luke BrownTravis L Graves$34,000
648.39Bode BaizeYork Gill$20,000
749.28Chad MastersWyatt Cox$18,000
849.46Erich RogersPaul Eaves$12,000
950.63Pedro EgurrolaJC Flake$10,000
1050.81Bubba BuckalooDaniel Braman$9,000
1153.85Mason AppletonCooper Freeman$8,500
1254.71Brandon FarrisBraden Harmon$7,500
1341.83Cyle DenisonDustin Davis$7,000
1442.57Clint PeverleyLevi Pettigrew$6,500
1542.71Jake Cooper ClayTrey Yates$6,500
Round One Fast Time 
PlacingTimeHeaderHeelerMoney
16.86Cash DutyRoss Ashford$8,000
27.23Chad MastersWyatt Cox$6,000
37.26Colby LovellDakota Kirchenschlager$4,000
47.28Braden PirrungJR Dees$2,000
Round Two Fast Time
PlacingTimeHeaderHeelerMoney
15.65Dustin EgusquizaLevi Lord$8,000
25.82Quinton ParchmanGarrett Smith$6,000
35.83Korbin RiceLogan Moore$4,000
45.9James ArvisoJR Gonzalez$2,000
Round Three Fast Time
PlacingTimeHeaderHeelerMoney
16.44Aaron TsinigineJaylen Eldridge$8,000
26.55Bubba BuckalooDaniel Braman$6,000
36.96Manny EgusquizaEvan Arnold$4,000
47.18Ketch KeltonDenton Dunning$2,000
Round Four Fast Time
PlacingTimeHeaderHeelerMoney
15.71Clint SummersJake Long$7,000
15.71Slade WoodGage Williams$7,000
35.9Austin BarstowJorge Pina$4,000
46.2Clay B TryanNicky Northcott$2,000
Round Five Fast Time 
PlacingTimeHeaderHeelerMoney
14.87Tyler WadeWesley Thorp$8,000
25.09Jaxon HillJessen James$6,000
35.23Kellan JohnsonCarson Johnson$4,000
45.55Brenten HallKaden Profili$2,000
Short Go Fast Time 
PlacingTimeHeaderHeelerMoney
16.45Chad MastersWyatt Cox$4,000
26.65Pedro EgurrolaJC Flake$3,000
36.84Kaleb DriggersJunior Nogueira$2,000
47.37Clay SmithColeby Payne$1,000
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