Junior Zambrano, 24, of Nogales, Arizona now ranks No.1 in the Resistol Rookie Heelers Standings with $21,836.17 in PRCA earnings.
Zambrano holds a slim lead of $562 over Blaine Turner, 23, of Batesville, Ark., in the No.2 spot and an $858 lead over Garrett Smith, 24, of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., in the No. 3 spot.
Right now, the Resistol Rookie Heelers Standings are far from settled but Zambrano is prepared to fight to the finish for the Year-End title with only six weeks left in the ProRodeo regular season.
“I’ve always wanted to make a pretty good strong push at this Rookie of the Year deal,” Zambrano said. “It’s always been kind of important to me ever since I’ve got into rodeoing.”
Zambrano grew up in the cowboy lifestyle. His family runs a beef cow-calf operation in Nogalas, Arizona. He was involved in sports during his elementary school years, but at the age of ten, he asked his father to teach him to ride and rope.
“It’s been all about rodeo ever since,” Zambrano said.
Zambrano has competed at every level of the game from junior high, to high school, to college rodeo and in 2017 he won the PRCA Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo.
“In 2017 I was still in high school on my permit and I just kind of had a pretty decent year,” Zambrano said. “I made the circuit finals and was lucky enough to win the average up there. After that, I went to college and that’s kind of when I slowed down. I was still going to the rodeos and kind of getting my feet wet. Honestly, kind of preparing for my rookie year. The way it all played out, Josh [Siggins] wanted to go rodeo anyways this year so I pretty much had to buy my card no matter what. But regardless, I’m just fortunate. It’s been such a good year.”
Zambrano kicked off his rookie season with the average win at La Fiesta De Los Vaqueros with partner Josh Siggins. He then finished second at Lakeside Rodeo with B.J. Campbell, second at the Resistol Rookie Roundup with Wyatt Lacey, first at The Kingsmen Andy Devine PRCA Rodeo with Josh Siggins, fourth in the average at Rodeo de Sante Fe with Josh Siggins, and second at the Red Desert Roundup with Rhett Anderson.
“Tucson was a big hit for us and it’s a circuit rodeo for us,” Zambrano said. “Just to start off with a good rodeo like that, it made it fun. After that we were just like, ‘Well, let’s keep ball rolling.’”
Throughout his rookie season, Zambrano has relied on a bay mare he calls Callie. He purchased her at the end of his senior year of high school from Arnold Burruel, of Marana, Arizona, whose original owner was RT Heredia, a close friend of Zambrano’s who passed away in 2018. Callie is credited with playing a very important role in Zambrano’s rodeo career.
“I like to call her my little brown dragon,” Zambrano said. “She’s tough as nails. I can take her to any set up. She’s really the only one I’m riding out here right now. I’ve had some other horses that just come off the ranch that I can have a good practice session on and stuff but this mare is the main one all year so I’ve tried to keep her healthy and just finish out the year on her.”
Student of the Game
Zambrano is not only competing for the Year-End title, but he is also taking advantage of every opportunity to learn while out on the ProRodeo trail.
“This rookie year has been important to me for a long time,” Zambrano said. “After I won the circuit finals, I came up here and hung out with these guys before on my permit. So I was able to see what it took to make it out here, I guess you could say. When I went home, I really went back and took the time at school to really sharpen up and really focus on being the best that I could possibly be when I showed up to the rodeo, whether it was rig-wise, horse-wise, attitude-wise, anything. I just wanted to be my best. So that way I knew whenever I left it wasn’t cause of try or I didn’t do my best. I try to learn from every steer. Cesar de la Cruz is a big mentor of mine. I get to talk to him a lot. I was actually talking to him yesterday. He said, ‘Just gotta be a student of the game and take every run for what it is and every little moment for what it is.’ That’s why I really keep my eyes open and my ears open out here my first year. I’m really, really blessed to be out here and just taking it all in as much as I can.”
Battle Till the End
The Rookie of the Year title is on the line for Zambrano. This week he will rope with Rhett Anderson at the Canby Rodeo, Gooding Pro Rodeo, and Moses Lake Roundup Rodeo in an effort to finish out his season strong.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a religious man, but I’m Godly man so I just try to trust the process. I know God has a plan,” Zambrano said. “I just go to the next one, try to do my job, and if I don’t, then I try to learn from it and hopefully do my job at the next one.”
Resistol Rookie Team Roping Headers Standings:
- Tanner James, Porterville, CA • $35,744.45
- Kreece Thompson, Munday, TX • $27,225.10
- Bodie Mattson, Sturgis, SD • $12,205.14
- Kash Bonnett, Ponoka, AB • $9,506.06
- T.C. Hammack, Chiloquin, OR • $7,429.91
- Tyler Hobert, Clearwater, KS • $7,075.24
- Wyatt Lacey, Prescott Valley, AZ • $6,951.50
- Jason Burson, Sealy, TX • $6,678.57
- Travis Nickolson, Irvine, AB • $5,445.13
- Caleb Berquist, LaCrosse, WA • $5,383.62
Resistol Rookie Team Roping Heelers Standings:
- Junior Zambrano, Nogales, AZ • $21,836.17
- Blaine Turner, Batesville, AR • $21,273.37
- Thomas Smith, Mt. Juliet, TN • $20,978.09
- Trae Smith, Georgetown, ID • $16,411.81
- Clay Green, Pine Grove, LA • $16,369.25
- Logan Cullen, Courtenay, BC • $11,011.32
- Cayden Cox, Arroyo Grande, CA • $10,452.57
- Arye Espenscheid, Big Piney, WY • $10,202.55
- Zack Woods, Walters, OK • $9,930.47
- Kolton Good, Carter, OK • $9,150.15