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Keeping eyes on grand prize: Duo of Bohlman, Benson ready for National High School Finals Rodeo

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Richardton’s Layton Bohlman, left, and Tate Benson of Scobey, Mont., compete in team roping during the North Dakota high school state finals on June 15 at the Bowman Indoor Arena. Bohlman and Benson won the state team roping championship.

Team ropers Layton Bohlman and Tate Benson aren’t exactly next-door neighbors.

In fact, they don’t even reside in the same state.

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Bohlman lives in Richardton and Benson resides in Scobey, Mont., which has a distance of more than 250 miles between the two towns.

However, the distance hasn’t affected duo as they won the North Dakota state team roping state championship on June 15 in Bowman.

“I went up there a couple of times and we got a couple good practices in,” said Bohlman, the team’s heeler. “He came down here a couple of times. We both put in the miles to practice.”

Before their final run at the state finals, Bohlman and Benson had already locked up the state championship.

Yet, Benson, the header, wanted to end the state finals on a high note. The duo won the round with a time of 6.3 seconds.

“I told Layton, ‘Let’s just go out and have some fun,’” Benson said. “We went out and had a nice, smooth run to end the rodeo.”

Bohlman and Benson don’t want their good fortunes to end in the state of North Dakota.

With the state championship win, the team ropers punched their tickets to the National High School Finals Rodeo, which begins today in Rock Springs, Wyo.

“We just want to go in, make a couple of solid runs, make the short go and see where we are at from there,” Bohlman said. “I’m pumped for (the national high school finals).”

The 2013-14 season started strong for Bohlman and Benson, but the duo had a tougher time at the beginning of the spring.

Nonetheless, they returned to full form by the end of the season.

“In the beginning of the season, we started out really good and we were really consistent,” Benson said. “Come spring time, we went on a little colder spell, but then we got everything back together. Everything worked out well in the end.”

Though Bohlman and Benson don’t have the luxury or ease of practicing with each other every day — they normally prepare separately — they relish each chance they get in the pen together.

Bohlman and Benson have each taken a trip to practice with each other during the month between the end of the state finals and national finals.

The Richardton cowboy said practicing together was “definitely more difficult during the school year.”

Returning to the national high school finals Bohlman and Benson aren’t strangers to the national high school finals.

Bohlman competed in team roping with his older brother, Ryder, in last year’s national high school finals. They finished 18 out of 81 teams.

He said it was a little unexpected how well they placed, because Layton and Ryder finished in a tie for third and fourth after last year’s state finals rodeo.

“Last year was fun, because my brother and I made the short-go, so I have a little experience on how that is going to work down there,” said Bohlman, who will be a senior at Richardton in the fall. “It was kind of a little surprising doing that well.”

Benson, who graduated from high school in the spring, plans to continue his rodeo career at Eastern Wyoming College in the the fall.

He also won a state championship in the tie-down roping. Benson said the anticipation of going to the national high school finals has been building since the state finals ended.

“When I’m out practicing, it’s just another day getting ready for it,” Benson said. “I want it to be here faster and faster, so I can go down there. I know it’s a lot fun down there.”

Bohlman thankful for his support Of the 12 rodeos during this season, the closest city Bohlman traveled to was Dickinson.

The rest of the rodeos took at least an hour, if not more, to reach.

The furthest trek was saved for last as Bohlman traveled with his parents — Casey and Dodi — to Rock Springs, which is nearly 700 miles from Richardton.

Bohlman couldn’t express the amount of appreciation he has for his parents and grandparents, Marv and Hedy.

“They help me a lot with everything by getting ready,” he said.

Bohlman credits his father, Casey, and grandfather, Marv, for beginning his rodeo career.

“My dad and my grandpa started me with it,” he said. “Our family has been doing it forever.”