Three area teens ranked nationally while representing Kansas at the National High School Finals Rodeo last month.
Faith Miller and J.D. Robson, both of Lyon County, and Weston Patterson of Coffey County, made the trip from July 17 - 23 to Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Miller placed in the top 10 nationally in girls cutting, Patterson placed in the top 10 nationally for saddle bronc riding and Robson placed in the top 20 nationally in steer wrestling.
To attend the NHSRA finals, the contestants have to be a part of their state high school rodeo association and make the top four in the event they choose to participate in.
Normally, the Kansas High School Rodeo Association has rodeos all year round. However, due to the ongoing novel coronavirus, all the rodeos for spring 2020 were canceled. Contestants to qualify for nationals were based off of how well they did in the Fall 2019 rodeos.
Miller, 18, is a 2020 Manhattan Virtual Academy graduate. Placing in the top 10 for girls cutting was a fitting way to end her high school career.
“I made the short go. I was in the top 20 the first round, I was in the top 10 [in the second round], and in the short round I was in the top 10 again,” she said. “It went really well, it was the best I had ever done at the national high school finals. It was a good way to end my senior year.”
Each round works by splitting up all the national contestants up by morning and night performances. Then, whoever does the best in each performance will come back for the short round.
Girls cutting requires contestants to show their skills on horseback, both to show to demonstrate a horse’s athleticism and a rider’s ability to control their mount. Contestants walk their horse into a small herd of cattle and try to keep one cow out of the herd. Contestants are judged on presentation and how well their horse cooperates.
“I was really excited. I came in on the first go and I didn’t quite have the run I needed to, but it ended up being really good. The cattle got really tough the first go, and then the second go I just wanted to come back and have another solid run,” she said. “Making that short go, I had never been in the top 10 in the short go so that was super exciting. I finished my senior year really well.”
Miller advises any young kids who are interested in pursuing rodeo to work hard and to always believe in your dreams.
“I just want to put a thank you to my mom and dad and everyone who has helped me. Emporia has done a lot for me over the years,” she said.
Miller plans to attend college in Garden City on a rodeo scholarship. She will do breakaway roping and plans to major in nursing.
Robson, 18, will be a senior this fall at Manhattan Virtual Academy. He placed in the top 10 nationally on the first go, but finished in the top 20 nationally at NHSFR for steer wrestling.
Steer wrestling involves a horse-mounted rider chasing a steer, jumping off, grabbing the steer by the horns and wrestling it to the ground.
“There’s a lot of tough kids out there, big crowds — all around good rodeo,” he said. “The community worked hard since all this COVID stuff [happened], we’re very lucky to have it this year and it was a ton of fun.”
Robson plans to finish his senior year and continue participating in Kansas High School Rodeo Association events. He hopes to make the finals again and participate in open and amateur rodeos.
He advises any aspiring cowboys and cowgirls to find someone who knows what they’re doing; work hard and all your hard work will pay off.
“I’d just like to thank all my friends and family, the Millers for helping me throughout the year, Brian, Frances and my good buddy Dawson Price for letting me ride his horse,” he said.
Weston Patterson, 18, is a 2020 Waverly High School graduate who placed in the top 10 nationally in saddle bronc riding — a rodeo event in which the contestant rides on a bucking horse to throw off the rider.
“I won sixth in the first round and I got bucked out of the second round. I still scored enough points that I was able to flip into the top 20 to make the short round. I was 65 points, so I ended up 10th in the nation overall in saddle bronc riding,” he said.
Patterson was the state champion in bronc riding in 2018 and 2019, but he placed second this year. He believes that if the spring rodeos were not canceled due to COVID-19, he could have had more points to be state champion for the third year in a row.
“Rodeo is kind of becoming a dying tradition, but there’s a lot of good to it,” he said.
Through the KHSRA, he has established many connections and the rodeo became his second family. Everyone is friends with everyone and there is a large support system, he said.
“If I was to do it again, for dang sure get equipment,” Patterson said. “Good equipment is a key to it. Find someone who’s knowledgable in whatever event you want to get into. Everybody thinks it’s just who has the best horses, who is more athletic, who has more money ... as long as you’re willing to work hard and stay humble and keep looking at the bright side of the little things you’re gonna get better and you won’t even know it.”
Patterson plans on attending Clarendon Community College in Clarendon, Texas on a rodeo scholarship this fall. He plans to continue doing rodeos with intentions on pursuing a career in the pro rodeo circuit.