By Kendra Santos
Patrick Smith and Kory Koontz have celebrated some of the most memorable moments of their cowboy careers right here in the Reno Livestock Events Center. They’re both on the back side of 40, so have seen more of their rodeo careers in the rearview mirror than is yet in front of them in that windshield. So what brings this pair of past BFI champs to the BFI Reno Championship presented by Wild Rag Vodka? That’s easy—today’s winning team will skip town $100,000 richer.
Patrick—who’s 41 and pulling pipes for 2020 Resistol Rookie Header of the Year Tanner Tomlinson here at the Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West Reno Rodeo and also the Reno Open—won the 2005 Bob Feist Invitational Team Roping Classic with Clay Tryan, and struck again right here in this building in 2013 with Cowboy King Trevor Brazile.
“There’s prestige to this place,” said Smith, who won gold team roping buckles with Tryan in 2005 and Brazile in 2010. “As Tanner put it, he always wanted to rope at the BFI here. He didn’t get his chance after COVID shut Reno down in 2020. But this Reno Open is a great roping in its own right. And us coming to Reno for the rodeo and this roping is a great way to kick off Cowboy Christmas 2021.”
Koontz—who’ll be 50 on July 30—won his third BFI buckle in March with Manny Egusquiza at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Kory first struck BFI gold here in Reno with Rube Woolsey in 1995, then went back-to-back when he and Matt Tyler got the BFI W in 1996.
“I would not be here at the Reno Open today if I hadn’t won the BFI this year,” said 22-time NFR heeler Kory, aka Dawg. “I’m not chasing points and trying to make another NFR anymore. But we don’t get many chances to rope at ropings that pay like this one does.
“I made the decision to come here because I did win the BFI earlier this year. I know this isn’t technically the BFI, but no one’s ever had the chance to go back-to-back at two BFI ropings in one year before. Just being here is an opportunity no one’s ever had before.”
After a sketchy first-round run, Manny and Kory fought back with 5.9, 5.9 and 7 flat in rounds two through four. (They were yet to rope their fifth steer when this story went up.)
“I’ve had some very memorable days in this building over the years,” Kory said. “And this is a great-paying roping. I’m mostly going to circuit and amateur rodeos, giving private lessons and riding outside horses now. I’m still competing a lot, just closer to home. But a roping this big has brought a lot of us out of the woodwork.”