story by Lindsay King Third generation rodeo competitor 13-year-old Libby Berger from Udall, Kansas, has a need for speed. “Barrels or breakaway roping is my […]
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by Magie Downare-Nevius
At 18 years old, Zane Leftwich, will take his second CePRA season in the team roping with heeling partner Rio Esquebl, but will extend his list of events to the steer wrestling. “We were just getting our feet wet last year and having fun with it. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to compete in the steer wrestling, because the CePRA has a very strong competitive group, but have been working really hard at it and feel that I’m ready,” Zane said. Mentored by multiple CePRA finals qualifier and champion, Shane Henderson, Zane gives credit for his progression in the event to his experienced advisor. “Shane has taught me everything about steer wrestling from the ground up. I will use his horse this year and Shane will haze for me as well,” he said.
With both parents (Todd and Shauni) being strong rodeo athletes, Zane was fortunate to have an upbringing around the sport. Todd, a retired saddle bronc rider, and Shauni, a barrel racer, earned their names as multiple qualifiers in the PRCA Prairie Circuit, CePRA and IPRA. Their passion within the arena was also passed to Zane’s older brother (Sam, 24), who is a Badlands Circuit saddle bronc riding qualifier and is looking to make the NFR. “I look up to my parents and brother. They are all very supportive of me and while mom still runs, has slowed down quite a bit to haul me around,” Zane said. As bronc riding seems to be a household event, Zane says that he chose a different path because of his mount. “I tried riding broncs, but it didn’t work out for me. I was blessed to get a super nice horse when I first started roping and he is the reason that I progressed so fast. I just got ate up with it and was doing well in my events, so stuck with them instead,” he said.
Mounted on his 13-year-old bay gelding, “Spike”, Zane has been turning the steers for Rio and have worked their way to a current top 10 seeding in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association standings, where they have qualified for their second state finals. “We are hoping to go to Nationals after making our trip to the IFYR in Shawnee, Okla.,” Zane said. “We are definitely looking forward to the trip, but Rio and I make a good team, because we both hold the same goals.” In the meantime, Zane has also climbed to a fourth place position in the steer wrestling standings.
The recent graduate of Winfield High School is a former football player and golfer, but says that he gave them up early in high school to focus on roping and steer dogging. “I knew what I wanted to do and the others didn’t seem to matter as much,” he explained. The devotion has paid off as Zane has signed to a two-year school in Miami, Okla., where he will compete on the rodeo team and major in accounting. “My plans are to, later, transfer to a university and continue rodeoing,” he said.
Until that time, Zane has his sights set on qualifying for his first CePRA finals. “I want to try hard and make it to the finals in both of my events. The CePRA has really good rodeos and the Crowthers, not only, put them on really well, but have great stock. In the end, they pay good and are close to home, which is a big money saver, too,” Zane said.