Three-time Wrangler NFR qualifier Wesley Thorp had a big year in 2016. He won the College National Finals Rodeo, then days later won the 39 annual Bob Feist Invitational and qualified for his first trip to the NFR. Of the three, Thorp still sports his prestigious BFI Champion Heeler buckle.

“The College Finals were pretty neat. It was something that I set a goal to win. It was pretty fun. I expected to do good at the College Finals, but the BFI was the first time there. I just wanted to do good. I didn’t really have super high expectations. I just wanted to get through the roping and win what I could, and it ended up working out good. It’s one of those deals that went my way—back to back.”

[READ MORE: 5 Tips for a Smooth Entry and Smooth Finish with Wesley Thorp]

Thorp cleaned up on the backside for Zac Small, roping six head by two feet in 42.71 seconds, worth $62,000 a man, plus $6,000 from placing in two rounds.

“[Small] was pretty carefree,” Thorp said. “He didn’t make a big deal out of anything. I knew what he was going to do every time. If he got a good start, he wasn’t going to waste any time. He was going to rope him and didn’t over-think any situation. We were high call and needed to be 11 and we were 6-something. [I knew Small] wasn’t going to be mad if I messed up, so, there really wasn’t any pressure on that end. It wasn’t like I was out there roping for the first time with a veteran that I was always worried about with everything.”

Thorp and Small had never been to this prestigious event before, but that didn’t affect their game plan.

[READ MORE: No Wasted Motion with Wesley Thorp]

“I’d just watched it on TV. I didn’t know what to expect, I just knew you’re supposed to knock them all down. We drew pretty good throughout the whole roping. I was just planning on trying to catch them all—taking each steer for what it was. We drew good enough to win it.”

Thorp isn’t one to get too worked up about the buckles to be won. It’s more important to him to stay on top of his game so he can continue entering.

“I don’t get too caught up in prestige or hype. I rope for a living, so I have to win either way.” 

[READ MORE:Pinch Hitter: Thorp Taps Searcy's "Rio" For Round 1 of 2018 NFR]

Related