Zane Kilgus and Drew Carnes went to the pay window nearly every time they backed in the box in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on January 13-15, and team roping wasn’t the only event they showed up to dominate.
Watsontown, Pennylvania’s Kilgus came into the FFCF in the No. 3 position with over $4,000 separating him from Waylon Cameron and the No. 1 spot. On the heels, Valley Falls, New York Native Carnes was also sitting No. 3, but had to win about $1,500 to clear the win over Scot Brown. Carnes didn’t sweat the gap on either side for the duo.
“There’s nobody who can get it around the horns in our circuit as fast as Zane,” Carnes (35) said. “I can look over them a little bit, play it safe and still be faster than a lot of guys.”
That statement was backed by a stellar performance in the go-rounds in Harrisburg. The team topped the first performance with a 5.7-second run, second round with a 5.0, and pulled third in the final round with a 6.1 en route to the aggregate win for 16.8 seconds on three head. In total, the team raked in $8,547 per man and took home the year-end titles.
Additionally, Carnes cashed two checks in the tie-down roping, while Kilgus swept the year-end and aggregate in that event. Kilgus locked down the year-end and FFCF all-around wins as well, thanks to his roping efforts and his performance in the steer wrestling at the circuit finals.
Zane competes against his father, Ned in the FFC tie-down roping while his mother, Deneiss competes in the breakaway.
“I think this was the first circuit finals I can think of that my dad hasn’t been entered in since I was a little kid,” Zane said. “But, it’s been cool having my mom down there the past two years since they added breakaway.”
Carnes and Zane teamed up once Zane returned from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M University and headed out for the summer.
“Roping with Drew is easy,” Kilgus said with a laugh. “He pretty much plans the trips out, enters us and just tells me where to show up.”
The pair admitted that the start of the summer wasn’t ideal for the partnership.
“It didn’t start out great,” Carnes said. “I got a new horse right at the end of July, and things finally started to turn around. Once we got on a roll, it got really fun.”
Carnes’ 2014 gelding, Seminole Wrangler, or “Crawfish,” hadn’t been to rodeos before he purchased the gelding from a family member, but the gelding figured out how to get by in both the tricky track setups and wide-open permanent arenas that the circuit offers in the summer months.
Kilgus started out the summer on his rock-solid 2014 roan mare, Rojo Drifter Girl, or “Maxine.” Maxine and Kilgus originally had an uneasy relationship in the tie-down before the mare found her specialty.
“We got her in for tie-down training when she was a 4-year-old,” Kilgus said. “She was kind of wild. I had to rope her to catch her. Her owners decided to sell her, but dad really liked her so we bought her. I decided to try her in the heading. I’ve barely ever roped the sled on her, she just took to things and started working like a total natural from the beginning.”
Once Maxine had her fill of the summer run, Kilgus opted to season two young horses to strengthen his team roping string for college rodeos and 2023 ProRodeos. The CNFR qualifier has figured out his own hack for strategizing horsepower between his Northeastern summers and winters in the NIRA Central Plains Region.
“Riding those young ones up here can help you more than a lot of people realize at the college deals,” Kilgus explained. “There’s a few rodeos we go to that are indoors and are really narrow like a lot of the pens up here. It only helps if I can get these young ones exposed to it while I’m going to so many every week.”
Kilgus is headed back to Oklahoma to resume classes, while Carnes will turn his attention to jackpots and rodeos along the East Coast before Kilgus returns to the Northeast and they start preparing for July’s NFR Open in Colorado Springs.
“We weren’t scared to travel this summer,” Carnes said. “We crisscrossed to IPRA and circuit rodeos and it makes for a great year when you can win at both. It sucks that this is the third year that I made the IFR and didn’t get to go because the dates overlap, but getting the NFR Open spot definitely softened that blow. I think we’ll be a great team to represent the circuit, just like Eric and Bret are.”
The reserve year-end champions, Eric Fabian and Britt Bockius also earned a spot to the 2023 NFR Open.
First Frontier Circuit Finals Rodeo Results
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, January 12-14
First round: 1. Zane Kilgus/Drew Carnes, 5.7 seconds, $2,137 each; 2. Eric Fabian/Derek Carey, 6.8, $1,603; 3. Jimmy Healy Jr./Casey Cox, 7.9, $1,068; 4. Mike White/Shawn Quinn, 8.8, $534
Second round: 1. Zane Kilgus/Drew Carnes, 5.0 seconds, $2,137 each; 2. Darren Morgan/Britt Bockius, 6.2, $1,603; 3. Eric Fabian/Derek Carey, 6.8, $1,068; 4. Troy Musser/J.R. Myers, 7.0, $534
Third round: 1. Darren Morgan/Britt Bockius, 5.2 seconds, $2,137 each; 2. Jose Mota/Angel Mota, 5.5, $1,603; 3. Zane Kilgus/Drew Carnes, 6.1, $1,068; 4. Carmine Nastri/Kevin Brown, 6.4, $534
Average: 1. Zane Kilgus/Drew Carnes, 16.8 seconds on three head, $3,205 each; 2. Darren Morgan/Britt Bockius, 23.4, $2,404; 3. Jose Mota/Angel Mota, 13.0 on two head, $1,603; 4. Eric Fabian/Derek Carey, 13.6, $801
Results from ProRodeo.com