Brice Patterson is lucky.

He’s been bucked off horses countless times, breaking his wrist and foot and dislocating his knee on separate occasions. Yet he stands back up and recovers more quickly than expected almost every time. Pain won’t keep him from rodeo.

Patterson, an upcoming Bozeman High senior, won the Montana High School Rodeo Association all-around and bareback titles in June and is among a group of locals who will compete at the National High School Finals Rodeo beginning Sunday in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

For the likes of Patterson, Gavin Duncan, Paige Rasmussen and Trace Fuller, all from either Bozeman or Belgrade who won an event at state, consistency has been paramount to their successes — including for Patterson as he dealt with myriad injuries.

But as he pointed out, two 50-point rides are better than a memorable 90-point ride. For nationals, the second appearance of his career, he simply is seeking to pull off qualified rides.

“Be as clean and organized and determined as I can,” Patterson said of his goals, “to make it back to the short-go and give it my 110% every time I climb on the back of that horse.”

Patterson felt he had an average fall season, but riding throughout the break led to a “fantastic” spring as he scored higher and made faster runs than ever before. As he focused on basics in preparation, he felt himself become more comfortable and aggressive at state.

“I feel so much more confident,” Patterson said. “I’m getting on bigger, badder, stronger bucking horses than I’ve ever gotten on before and making better rides than I ever have.”

Duncan, who won the state team roping title with Fuller, also became more assertive in his senior season. The Manhattan High graduate and Sheridan (Wyoming) College commit missed out on nationals by one place — the top four go to nationals — the past two seasons, admitting he simply missed his shot as the header at the previous two state rodeos.

So he emphasized consistency throughout the last year in countless hours of practice.

“I came back with a vengeance this year,” Duncan said. “It was a real bummer deal the last two years being so close to making it, and it just doesn’t happen. You work all season to get to that point and you come up short. It really motivated me. It was my senior year so I really wanted to do good and make it to nationals. It pushed me pretty far.”

Duncan also benefited from uniting with Fuller. Their families have long been friends, but they hadn’t yet roped together during the high school season. They began practicing together to see if their tandem might work, and Fuller was impressed.

Looking back, the fit seems obvious to Duncan.

Still, the duo wasn’t as consistent during the season as hoped. They occasionally performed well, thus driving them to seek steady results.

They practiced habitually after school or after work and spent their weekends at rodeos. And with every opportunity together, the two became comfortable.

Even bad nights could be used as learning opportunities so they knew what to fix. That time together, they thought, would mean they could reach that allusive consistency — something Fuller said “is pretty much everything” — for state.

“I always knew it was possible to win it because me and Trace rope really well together so we practiced and stayed positive, and it happened,” Duncan said. “We know what each other is going to do, and we’re pretty confident in each other.”

Together, they won a state championship, and Duncan was relieved he won’t be left behind during nationals.

“Oh man, I’m stoked. I can’t wait to go. Gavin and I have been waiting for this rodeo all year,” Fuller said. “We rope every chance we get. We’re roping, we’re practicing, we’re getting better.”

Rasmussen, a Belgrade graduate who signed to compete for Montana State with her sister, Shelby, also narrowly missed nationals in the past. As a junior, she was just two points away in the goat tying season-long standings from qualifying.

She was disappointed, so she began thinking critically about her practice routines.

She started keeping a journal, writing down her goals for each practice so she could visualize what she needed to accomplish each time. Rasmussen placed herself in different practice scenarios so she was ready for anything and used a timer to force herself to be faster. She also made herself complete 10 clean runs in a row in any given practice so she could become more consistent, which she believes is more valuable than speed.

“(Last year) was so much motivation. It pushed me so hard,” Rasmussen said. “This year, I worked even harder. I tried not to press myself too hard where the pressure overwhelmed me, but I definitely used the pressure as an advantage.”

She went ahead and put together a career season, winning every fall high school rodeo and nearly each spring one. It culminated into a state championship.

While her first two rounds weren’t up to her standard at state, she won by remaining calm and focused. Now having achieved her goal she set out for last season, she feels at peace.

Rasmussen believes she can be a national champion now.

“All my hard work paid off, and I’m super excited for nationals,” Rasmussen said. “I feel really prepared.”

Colton Pool can be reached at or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.