It’s hard for Casey Barnes to imagine a better Colorado junior high school finals rodeo.
The 14-year-old Maybell resident had five top-five finishes at the May 30 and 31 state rodeo, including one alongside his brother, Cutter, and was named all-around state champion.
His performance earned him a ticket to the national finals rodeo later this month.
Being the best in Colorado is only part of Casey’s plan.
He wants to be the best in the country.
“I’m going to go in, and do my best,” Casey said of the national finals. “If I do that, I should do alright.”
The national rodeo will be from June 27 to July 3 in Gallup, N.M.
“I want to be all-around champion,” Casey said. “I want to win a couple (events) while I’m down there.”
As to which event, he said it doesn’t matter.
“I don’t really have a best event,” he said. “I like them all. I feel like I have a pretty good chance in all of them.”
Casey’s weekend featured top-five finishes in five events, including a second-place finish in goat roping, a third-place finish in breakaway roping and ribbon roping, and fourth-place finishes in bull riding and team roping.
He was also sixth in chute dogging.
The state rodeo wasn’t the first time Casey has won rodeo accolades.
He was all-around world champion when he was an 8-year-old Little Britches cowboy competing in the Little Wrangler division.
But, the junior high school rodeo was much tougher than Little Britches, Casey said.
“It was pretty fun,” he said. “It was a lot more work, but it was just as fun, maybe more.
“The competition was really, really tough. You had to work for everything you got.”
One of the highlights for Casey was placing in team roping with Cutter.
“It means a lot,” he said. “This is my last year I can rope with him in that kind of a deal.
“It will be two more years before I can rope with him again (in high school). I know it means a lot to him.”
For Cutter, sharing his brother’s accomplishment was also one of the highlights of the finals.
“It was pretty cool roping with the all-around champion,” he said.
Casey will compete with the top four cowboys from 47 states for the all-around title, while Cutter will try to win first place alongside Casey in team roping.
Representing Northwest Colorado means a lot to Casey, he said.
“I’ll be representing all of Moffat County,” he said. “I just hope to do well.”
When Casey attends Moffat County High School this fall, Cutter said it will be his turn to carry the torch.
“It’s pretty cool that (Casey) was all-around champion,” he said. “I have some pretty big shoes to fill.”