By all accounts, it has been a good year for Casey McMillen.
The 1999 Moffat County High School graduate was married in May, and he and his wife, Rayanna, welcomed a baby boy, Tucson James, in October.
On Dec. 12, McMillen’s year improved even more when he placed fifth in steer wrestling at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
With his fast wrestling, McMillen has earned a fifth-place world ranking, but that wasn’t even the highlight of the year for the 28-year-old former Craig resident.
“My goal is to be No. 1 in the world,” he said. “But I had a lot of good things happen for me this year. I was married, we had a baby, and I had a big finals.”
McMillen was ranked 13th heading into the finals for steer wrestling.
One good run at 3.7 seconds was all he needed to leap-frog into fifth place in the world.
“It was definitely good,” he said about his run. “I went in there 13th and left fifth.”
For his strong finish, McMillen took home more than $69,000.
“The money definitely helps my little family,” he said.
McMillen, who is a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, now lives in Redmond, Ore.
He was a state champion for Moffat County when he was a senior and became a professional in 2004.
After an 11th-place finish in 2007 and a 10th-place finish in 2008, McMillen finally broke through.
“It’s not like it’s easy, either,” he said. “You’re going against the 15 best in the world. It’s like nothing else.”
McMillen said he was able to put on a show on the biggest stage of the year.
“It’s the biggest rodeo of the year,” he said. “It’s our Super Bowl.”
It was McMillen’s third consecutive year competing at the National Finals Rodeo.
Aiding McMillen in the finals was Gunner, a new horse.
“I got on a really good horse I’d never ridden before,” he said. “He had done it before and was just awesome. He definitely gave me a chance to win.”
Next year, McMillen said he will try again to be No. 1.
With a new year, McMillen and the other professional cowboys start anew until the first rodeo of the new year in Denver.
“We’re all tied Jan. 1,” he said. “Nothing carries over."