Brothers Peyton and Tanner Leflett of Benton are no strangers to success on the rodeo circuit.
Last month, they finished third in the team roping event in the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association finals in Lake Charles.
Last October, they won $47,800 with a third-place finish in the No. 10 Shootout at the Cinch USTRC National Finals of Team Roping in Oklahoma City.
Now they’re gunning for a national high school championship.
Friday morning the brothers left for Rock Springs, Wyo., where they’ll compete in the 2013 National High School Finals Rodeo in team roping.
The event, which starts Monday, features more than 1,500 contestants from 41 states, five Canadian Provinces and Australia. Contestants will will be competing for $200,000 in prizes and $350,000 in scholarship money.
To earn the title of national champion, the Leflett brothers will have to finish in the top 20 in the team roping event based on their combined times in the first two rounds in order to advance to Saturday evening’s final round. After the final round, the national champion will be determined based on contestants’ three-round combined times.
Peyton will be a senior at Benton High this fall and Tanner will be a sophomore.
Rodeo has been a part of their lives since birth.
Leflett’s father Donnie and grandfather Bobby Leflett are successful team ropers. Their grandmother Nancy Leflett was also a successful barrel racer.
“The boys grew up with a rope in their hand and I guess were destined to team rope from birth,” the boys’ mother, Laura Lee Leflett, wrote in an email.
Leflett said her children started out on a rocking horse named Geronimo when they were 18 months old.
“They would rope a little stuffed cow that their grandparents bought them before it walked across the floor,” Leflett wrote.
At about 3 or 4, the boys starting roping a dummy off their bicycles.
“One would rope the horns and drag it so the other could ride up and rope the feet,” Leflett wrote. “Their dad told them when they could rope it 10 times in a row without missing they could then start roping off their horses.”
The brothers have been riding their own horses since they were 3.
When Tanner was in middle school, he won the state championship two straight years. This will be his third straight year of national competition.
The brothers formed their roping team just recently, though, and qualified for nationals with their third-place finish at the state high school rodeo.
Rodeo isn’t the only sport in which the brothers excel. Both play baseball at Benton. Peyton helped the Tigers win the District 1-4A title last spring.
Peyton’s twin sister, Lauren, is also a high achiever.
She and her partner Jacob Gibson, a Benton graduate, finished 11th at the state finals.
Lauren, the cheerleader captain at Benton, has put her brothers on notice, according to her mom.
“She told her brothers to look out and that she plans to be ahead of them next year,” Leflett wrote.