By Kendra Santos
Like a lot of the ropers entered in today’s Wrangler BFI Reno #12.5 Desert Showdown presented by YETI, Trenton Jones and Casey Felton are working people who rope for fun. They roped four steers in 31.52 seconds to take the #12.5 title today in the Reno Livestock Events Center. The $50,000 this team took home is not only a personal career best for both, but the kind of money it takes them months to make at their day jobs.
“It takes me almost a year to make this much money working,” said Felton of his $25,000 heeler’s half of the Desert Showdown win. “My biggest roping check before today was $6,500, and I’ve been roping my whole life. I could never win a big roping—before today.
“I work for the Lincoln County Road Department running a blade, and I shoe horses on the side. I stay so busy working that I’m lucky if I get to rope once or twice a week. I love to rope, and this is a big win for me. But I better not quit my day job, so I’ll celebrate by driving home, so I can be at work tomorrow morning.”
Felton, 34, grew up in Fallon, but now lives in Alamo, Nevada, 99 miles north of Las Vegas. He’s a #7 Plus heeler, which means he and Jones, who’s a #5 header, maxed out the #12.5. They came back high call, and closed the deal.
“I wasn’t nervous when we were roping, but getting our pictures taken made me really nervous,” grinned Jones, 28, who lives in Elko, Nevada, with his wife, Jo—they’re expecting their first baby in December. “This is by far the biggest win of my career. I was third high call at the World Series Finale a couple years ago in Vegas, and broke the barrier. We still won a little bit of money, but this is the biggest win of my life by far.”
Weather in Elko makes much practice tough for Jones in the winter months. He sneaks off to Arizona when he can, but stays busy year-round working for Boss Tanks, which is a water tank, trough and pipeline company.
“Work comes first, but roping’s the only hobby I have,” said Jones, who won the roping on his 10-year-old bay head horse, Henry. “With $1,000 fees, good cattle and me only living four hours down the road, this roping is a must. If you’re going to rope, you’ve got to come to this one. I’ve been here to rope in Reno before, and it’s a great week for ropers. I know one thing, it takes me a long time working to make this kind of money.”
Jones first roped with Felton when he was just a kid.
“’Grizz’ is pretty quiet, but he heels really good,” Jones said. “You pretty much just have to bend ’em and he shuts ’em down.”
Felton heeled on his 14-year-old black horse, Danger, who thanks to this roping might be getting some back-up before long.
“I think I’ll pay some bills off and buy another horse,” said Felton, who’s come to Reno to watch the BFI, but hadn’t ever thrown his name in the hat before today. “I’ve been in these situations a few times—not high call for this much money, but third or fourth. And I’ve always messed up. I was a little nervous today. So I’m really happy to finish strong and get this win. I’ve roped with Trenton a lot this last year, we just haven’t had much luck before now. We won a couple small checks and have had some opportunities, it just never panned out until today.
“All I have to say is thank you to the people who made this roping possible. To get to run at this kind of money is awesome. To be headed home and back to work with $25,000 in my pocket is pretty cool.”
Brad Carpenter and Richard Albisu finished second in the #12.5 Desert Showdown average with 33.32 seconds on four to Jones and Felton’s 31.52. Tony and Chad Steele’s 34.36 was third, followed by Shawn Sullivan and Nathan Singletary in fourth at 34.60. Carpenter double dipped and struck again with Marlow Eldridge on the back side for fifth in the average. Marlow is Dad to 2021 Hooey Jr BFI Open Heeling Champ Jaylyn Eldridge.
To see complete results from Wrangler BFI 12.5 Desert Showdown, click here.