Canada’s Kolton Schmidt and California’s Wyatt Cox—a new team in 2021—took home $100,000 after winning the BFI in its hometown of Reno, Nevada on June 21, 2021.
“We did our job,” said Schmidt, a two-time NFR qualifier. “We came here to win first, and everything went as planned. Previous times at the BFI I had roped scared, just trying to complete the course. My goal today was just to score and turn the cow as soon as I could. I was actually pretty proud of myself today. I roped considerably aggressive and rode my horse well. I didn’t rope scared one time.”
Schmidt, 27, and Cox, 25, roped their sixth steer at high team back in the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center in 7.10 seconds to move them to first in the average with a time of 40.27 seconds on six head.
“I’m finally catching my breath,” said Cox, who also made the quickest run in the BFI in 2020 with Cory Clark. “It’s definitely a long day, but you keep your head down and keep fighting it and it will pay off.”
Schmidt and Cox are the second team to win the BFI in 2021, as Manny Egusquiza and Kory Koontz won the roping in Guthrie on March 14, 2021.
“The BFI and in Reno just seems right,” Schmidt said. “I would have been this happy if I won it in Guthrie, too. The Bob Feist Invitational is the BFI no matter where it is, and they happened to have two this year and there’s two champions, and I’m glad I’m one of them.”
Cox, who was focused on completing the course and pulling back on two feet, was unaware that they had won the prestigious roping until hearing Schmidt yelling.
“I dallied and I knew we caught and knew we were going to get paid something,” Cox said. “When I looked up [Kolton] was screaming and looking at me. It was surreal. I lost my mind after that.”
Schmidt’s hollering was a release of keeping his composure for the duration of the roping.
“I just felt like it was a sigh of relief,” Schmidt admitted. “Everything was just let out. It was like the release of today. It was over and we did what we came here to do. To have it go our way and to be a BFI champion is something that will stick with us for the rest of our lives.”
Schmidt and Cox have only run a handful of steers together, but their runs have proven to come together in a quick fashion.
“This guy keeps a guy on his toes,” Cox said. “He’s sharp, so you have to be paying attention. He doesn’t give you a chance to not be aggressive, and I’m really starting to figure that out. It felt good, but it was pretty nerve-racking in the middle of it. He’s got a tempo in his run, and you have to be paying attention.”
Cox’s nerve-wracking feeling came from nearly missed his dally to cost them the roping.
“We had a steer that hopped real fast in the corner, and I had to pick the timing back up,” Cox said. “When I heeled him, I went over my horn one time. It’s a blessing that Kolton was already coming around because I would have lost my mind if I lost my rope right there. I panicked and took a deep breath when we got out the back (of the arena) because it literally almost slipped right through my fingers.”
Schmidt headed on an 11-year-old bay gelding named Rebel, who he added to his string in January.
“He’s been a blessing,” he said. “He’s done his job and he’s been a good horse. He pays for himself over and over again. We’re sure grateful that he’s ours.”
Cox rode his life-long companion, Max, a 13-year-old bay gelding, who his family raised.
“He’s my baby boy,” he said. “We raised him. He’s been a huge blessing to our family.”
Schmidt and his wife, Katy, are expecting a baby boy in October, which Katy decided to show off during the BFI.
“[Katy] has a dress on and she’s showing off her baby bump for the first time,” Schmidt said. “I don’t even have the kid yet, but it makes stuff better and something to look forward to. I’m sure thankful that she’s here.”
This win was more special when Cox called home to share the news with his parents.
“I called my dad when I got to the stalls, and he was balling,” Cox said. “He’s an emotional guy, but he doesn’t cry. That hit kind of hard. I had to rush him off the phone and told him I’d call him later because I was starting to tear up. He’s loved this roping for a long time. Ever since I was little, he used to play me these tapes and we’d watch the Matt Tyler videos. Being able to win it, I’m sure they are freaking out.”
One thing that has helped Schmidt revamp his roping is hiring mental performance coaches.
“A lot of guys are blessed, and they don’t need it,” Schmidt said. “I felt like I did. I felt like my roping career was missing something. I don’t want to be the guy at the end of my roping career looking back and saying, ‘I wish I would have done this.’ I don’t think you should be ashamed if you have to do it either. If you feel like you can get better from it, then why not do it.”