ROCK SPRINGS – Torrington’s Blake Afdahl and Buffalo’s Clay Reiner have been friends since their freshman year of high school, and midway through their sophomore season, they discussed partnering up for team roping.
They did this season, and Afdahl and Reiner made the most of their junior seasons.
The duo finished seventh in the championship short-go at the National High School Finals Rodeo and eighth in the week-long average on Saturday, July 20, highlighting the week for four Goshen County rodeo competitors who traveled to Rock Springs for the annual National High School Finals Rodeo last week.
With more than 250 miles separating Afdahl and Reiner, they don’t have many opportunities to practice throughout the year, making last week even more special.
“When we do practice, we make it count,” Afdahl said. “Even when we aren’t practicing together, he still heels a bunch of steers, and I’m still heading a bunch of steers. We know our jobs, so it’s not like we aren’t sure of what to do.”
Going into the NHSFR, they knew what they had to do – successfully rope three steers.
“After we got our first one down, we were 8.2,” Afdahl said. “We just had to go knock another one down to make the short round.”
That’s what they did.
In the second round, they turned in a time of 13.83 for 39th quickest, getting them to the final round, but putting them a little further behind than what they wanted.
“Once we were in the short round, we had to make up a little bit of ground,” Afdahl said. “We were able to get that other one down and got the top 10.”
In the championship round, they completed the run in 12.51 seconds, which was seventh fastest in the round.
For the weekend, Afdahl and Reiner had a 34.67 second average on three head to finish eighth overall for the weekend.
They weren’t the only team ropers from Goshen County competing, as brothers Bryan and Jared Lemmon finished 28th in the second go-round in 11.84 seconds after recording a no time in the first round.
They finished in the top 10 at the NHSFR a year ago, but failed to make the championship round in their final appearance at the high school finals.
Haiden Thompson also highlighted the weekend, placing in the top 10 in goat tying in the first round and in breakaway roping in the second round.
Thompson is no stranger to the big stage, and to her, the NHSFR was just another rodeo.
“A lot of people would pressure up in those situations, and I’ve been through enough that it really didn’t bother me,” she said. “It was just like going to another rodeo.”
As a result, in Thompson’s first trip to the high school finals, she secured the All-Around Rookie Cowgirl award, scoring 280 points.
“It was really close between me and another girl,” Thompsons said. “I ended up having points in two events, and she only had points in one. I was really surprised.”
Thompson placed fifth in goat tying in the first round in 7.44 seconds before running into some issues in the second round.
“In the second round, my horse actually tripped me,” she explained.
That resulted in a 12.76-second run. Thompson ultimately missed the championship round, as a result.
In breakaway roping, she was up in the first performance.
“I wasn’t sure how the calves were going to do,” Thompsons said. “So, my first round in the breakaway didn’t go the greatest, but I ended up eighth in the second round.”
Despite a run of 2.63 seconds in her second attempt, it wasn’t enough to bring her back for Saturday’s short-go.
The National High School Rodeo Association is one of the fastest growing youth organizations, with an annual membership of approximately 12,500 students from 43 states, five Canadian provinces, Australia and Mexico. The association sanctions more than 1,800 rodeos each year.