Z-Mann Zamora wins two state titles

OKEECHOBEE — Z-Mann Zamora captured the Florida High School rodeo championships in the tie-down calf roping and the team roping heelers last week when Okeechobee hosted the State Finals Rodeo.

Zamora had led the circuit for the entire year in tie-down calf roping and then thrilled the home crowd in the first go round of the state finals with a first place finish in 9.48 seconds, the best round of the rodeo. He finished second both Friday and Saturday nights to hold on for the title.

Zamora also held the season lead in the team roping going into the finals. He finished in the top five in all three rounds of the state finals to defend his lead.

”It has been a pretty good year. I’ve practiced hard all year long and tried to achieve all my goals,” he said.

Zamora got the most satisfaction out of the tie-down roping. It is a championship he’s tried to win for four years. He came in second and was the reserve champ last year.

He said you have to be quick and agile if you want to compete in that event.

“I think you need pretty good balance, being able to jump off your horse fast and then staying up and running,” he added.

The championship didn’t come easy. Zeke Norfleet, who won the second go round at the finals, and Colt Pappy, pushed Zamora all year long.

“I thought it would be a lot easier than it was. It took a lot of hard work because of the good competition. I had to stay on my toes all year long,” he said.

Zamora said he still wanted to perform at the finals and finish the season strong.

Zamora teamed with Rafael Domeningo in the team roping competition.

Domeningo lives in Ocala so the pair didn’t have a lot of time to practice together. They still made it work with solid performances at all the rodeos this year.

“Man it felt great to get that title. I haven’t had the best of luck in my previous years and it finally all came together. Hard work pays off,” he added.

Rodeos were held in Wauchula, Lake City, Arcadia, Williston, Zolfo Springs, Okeechobee, Belleview, and Brighton, before the state finals in Okeechobee.

Zamora started on the rodeo circuit in junior high in the fifth grade, so he has been in the sport for eight years. He said a current middle school student Clayton Culligan could be the next great rodeo star from Okeechobee.

The next step for Zamora will be the National High School Rodeo finals in Gillette, Wyo. in July. He will take along his horses, Grump for calf roping, and Shakira for team roping. He said the horses are a key to his success and he likes to treat them right and give them the rewards they deserve. He said he thinks he can compete with anyone in that rodeo, but will need a little luck on his side.

After the nationals, Zamora will attend South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, on a full-college scholarship.

He plans to study psychology and work as a counselor after his rodeo career is finished.

“It’s a little far from home but that don’t matter to me,” he said. “I’m trying to make it big in the sport of rodeo and wherever it takes me, I’m going.”

Zamora said he has been working all his life to be in the pro rodeo circuit and is happy about his accomplishments and will remember the people he’s met along the way.

“I’ve been working for this all my life. The rodeo coach at college knew me from nationals and kept in touch. I want to thank everyone for their support and I hope everything works out for the best,” he said.

Z-Mann Zamora shows off his state title saddles at the Agri-Civic Center Awards ceremony on May 14. He was joined by his father, brother and his mother.
(L-R) Danilo Zamora (father), Alejandro Diaz, Z-Mann Zamora, and Kenia Cabezas (mother).

Charles M. Murphy is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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