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Cactus kingpins win 11.5 for $100,000 in Guthrie

Photos courtesy of Olie's Images

He finally did it. Barry Berg – who has overseen for nearly 30 years the production of millions of Cactus Ropes – has had callbacks three different times to win the coveted six-figure prize in Reno’s original Invitational #11 roping. On June 22, he and Dustin Noblitt, the president of Cactus’ parent company, personally roped their way to the $100,000 win on the 25th anniversary of the Wrangler National Patriot 11.5.

Wrangler National Patriot

Wrangler® National Patriot™ is a year-round program developed to help raise funds to support American military veterans and their families and to serve as inspiration for all Americans to rally around each other in patriotism.

“This is the fairest, friendliest place to rope four steers that you can imagine,” said Berg of Pleasanton, Texas. He and Noblitt had a three-second lead on the rest of the pack as high callback. They finished strong and clean anyway, to take the win by six seconds over Colorado rodeo veterans and best friends Dwight Arnold and Chris Glover, who earned $50,000.

Noblitt rode his good mare that he shares with his daughter, a breakaway roper at Cal Poly. His previous biggest cash win had been a $35,000 payday with Shannon Jones in Las Vegas one year. Meanwhile, Berg, whose horse is 20, declared he’d give the money to his wife for staying supportive of him for nearly 20 years.

“I’m just thankful the organizers of the BFI decided to make this happen; for them to remake this event here in Oklahoma and for the Lazy E to open their doors and let us participate,” said Noblitt of Solvang, California. “The stands here were full yesterday.”

Photo courtesy of Olie’s Images

Pro Equine Group and its sister company, Hatco, support the Western industry through brands like Heel-O-Matic, Cactus Saddlery, and Resistol, each a longtime sponsor not only of the Bob Feist Invitational for the pros (held June 21), but also of the Wrangler National Patriot. Founded as the Reno Rodeo Invitational in 1996 by Nevada real estate developer Perry Di Loreto, the roping was designed to give equally matched amateur ropers across the country a chance at six-figure payouts using handicaps similar to golf. It was held for the first time this year in the Lazy E Arena after the pandemic-forced closure of its usual venue in Reno, Nevada.

The coronavirus also halted manufacturing within Pro Equine Group, as Cactus went from making a thousand ropes per day to a hundred.

“We have 560 employees, but we’re still a family,” said Noblitt. “So we kept paying all our people and did what we had to do. Luckily, our production is in Texas, one of the first states to get fired back up. And luckily for us, our people love what they do and were willing to decline assistance and come back to work.”

Ironically, Berg said the forced corporate shutdown due to COVID19 the past couple of months allowed more personal testing of Cactus’ latest rope, The Future, and his big win is a result of the fine-tuning of that rope. Plus, Noblitt said he was able to practice more in in the past two months than he had in two years. BFI producers showered the partners with champagne as they stepped on stage to accept awards, many of which were donated by Pro Equine Group.

“The industry has been good to us and we want to give back as much as anybody,” said Berg. “Thank God we’re in the cowboy industry.”

Both ropers also thanked Pro Equine Group founder Dennis Carroll, with whom Berg roped at the very first edition of the Reno roping in ’96.

“He’s been nothing but generous to the whole industry,” said Noblitt. “He’s changed my life and Barry’s life. He doesn’t get enough credit. But he never wanted any.”

Photo courtesy of Olie’s Images

For Arnold and Glover, high-school rodeo partners in the 1970s, the big reserve championship capped off a fun recent reunion. Arnold, 62, had placed at the BFI one year with Mark Kersting, back when he was going to more than a dozen Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeos. But he had quit roping for around 15 years to “try to get ahead.” Glover of Brighton, a three-time NFR qualifier in steer roping, said they’ve been just like kids again since Arnold moved back to neighboring Hudson.

“Dwight ropes so good and scores so good and rides such a good horse,” said Glover, who turned 60 this year and started tying on. “He makes it so easy that I’ve really enjoyed heeling – I’ve had more fun than I ever had going to the NFR.”

Glover heeled on Crisco, one of his steer-roping horses. Glover can head, heel, rope calves and bust steers on all his horses, including his 2018 AQHA/PRCA Steer Roping Horse of the Year.

Wrangler BFI Week continues through June 24. All events are live-streamed on www.WranglerNetwork.com.

Complete Results from the Wrangler National Patriot #11.5 on June 22:

First Round: 1. Heath Crofford and Andy Baker, 7.30 seconds, $5,000; 2. Justin Lankford and Brandon Taylor, 7.35, $3,500; 3. Lee Newman and Keith Coleman, 7.43, $1,500.  Second Round: 1. Colter LaRue and David Walker, 6.92 seconds, $5,000; 2. Tyler Thompson and Chad Davis, 7.18, $3,500; 3. Belo Wiley and Lywayne Bedford, 7.41, $1,500.  Third Round: 1. Coby LittleSoldier and Steve Harrison, 5.95 seconds, $5,000; 2. Wade Woodbury and Kade Elkins, 6.45, $3,500; 3. TJ Good and Alan Chappell, 6.47, $1,500. Short Round (that didn’t place in the average): 1. Jimmy Longino and Danny Watson, 10.29, $3,500; 2. Scot Wheatley and Jeremy Mallette, 14.16, $1,500.  Consolation Aggregate:  1. Raymond Kerr and Spencer Love, 23.15 seconds on three, $7,500; 2. Dennis Engelmann and Scube Waggoner, 23.62, $5,000; 3. Teddy Kreger and Skip Stansbury, 23.97, $3,000.  Aggregate: 1. Barry Berg and Dustin Noblitt, 32.54 seconds on four, $100,000; 2. Dwight Arnold and Chris Glover, 38.70, $50,000; 3. Hannah White and Bryan Caldwell, 38.77, $30,000; 4. Gary Kiehne and Shawn Palmer, 38.86, $18,000; 5. Dylan White and Roberto Torres Jr, 41.40, $14,000; 6. Justin Lankford and Brandon Taylor, 43.35, $12,000; 7. Griffin Scarlett and Ken Matheson, 45.89, $10,600; 8. Clint Threadgill and Louie Molina Jr, 46.74, $9,500; 9. Travis Regensberg and Joaquin Huntington, 47.25, $8,500; 10. Matt Klingeman and Travis Klingeman, 47.76, $8,000.

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