Zane Kilgus Doubles Up at 2023 First Frontier Circuit Finals, Totaling 7 Championships
Zane Kilgus continues to make the the First Frontier Circuit his playground—now holding seven year-end titles.
Zane Kilgus may have just purchased his PRCA card, but the First Frontier cowboy has a slew of titles to his name.
Zane Kilgus may have just purchased his PRCA card, but the First Frontier cowboy has a slew of titles to his name. Photo by Casey Martin

At just 22 years old, Zane Kilgus has already earned an impressive seven year-end titles in the First Frontier Circuit.

The crazy part? Kilgus only recently technically became a full fledged PRCA member, buying his Rookie card to compete during the 2024 season which began in October.

Yup, that’s right, Kilgus has completely dominated the Northeast for the past three seasons while competing on his permit.

Kilgus captured his two most recent titles at the conclusion of the RAM First Frontier Circuit Finals Rodeo (FFCFR) January 11-13, 2024, the season culminating event for the 2023 year which is held annually with the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.

The native of Watsontown, Pennsylvania stormed through the competition in the tie down roping, capturing his second consecutive average title, winning by a margin of 7.5 seconds, to ensure his third straight year end title as well.

“I just tried to make sure and do my job and let the rest land where it lands,” Kilgus noted humbly.

Zane Kilgus’ beginnings

Kilgus was born to rodeo with two rodeoing parents and an older brother who has also won a few First Frontier Circuit Championships. His father Ned is a well known trainer and roper in his own right and his mother, DeNiess, was in Harrisburg as well, and not just to cheer her youngest on . . . she was competing in the breakaway roping, winning a round check to add to the total family haul.

For the past few seasons, Kilgus has balanced his ProRodeo schedule in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and more with college courses and a full slate of National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) rodeos too. He is a member of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College’s rodeo team and captured back-to-back Central Plains Region’s All Around Championships in 2022-23.

“My major is Equine Ranch Management but it’s all online now,” Kilgus said. “I’ve got one semester left.”

With the fall semester compete, Kilgus is second in the team roping and calf roping in the region and leading for the All Around once again.


In Harrisburg, Kilgus got off to a slower start, clocking 11.6 seconds on his first calf which fell short of a round check.

“In the days before the circuit finals, I freed my horse up and he was pretty free in that first perf,” Kilgus noted wryly. “But he got better each day.”

Kilgus was aboard Major CatDaddy, aka Gus.

“I bought him last year and he’s eight this year,” Kilgus said. Kilgus and his father took the horse in for training years ago and, after sending him back to his then-owner Scott Limscomb, tried for several years to get him bought.

“We actually had him as a four-year old,” Kilgus said. “For years we tried to get him bought and he didn’t want to sell. Then he finally decided to sell him.”

Kilgus and Gus got faster each round of the finals, posting runs of 9.3 and 9.1 in rounds two and three, good enough for a second and a first, clinching the average with 30-seconds flat on three runs.

Former circuit champ JR Myers was second with 37.5 and had the rodeo’s fastest time when he won round two with 8.6 seconds.

After a season that included a dozen rodeo wins, Kilgus extended his regular season lead thanks to $7,527 won in Harrisburg. He finished with $16,905 for the year.

Kilgus also claimed the circuit’s year end All Around title for the third year. He won a go round in the team roping with NEO A&M teammate Shane Jenkins, adding to his tie down and steer wrestling money for a grand total of $31,527.

Next up for Kilgus is a trip to Homestead, Florida, mostly because it’ll be “warm down there,” a welcome change from the freezing temperatures that plagued rodeo competitors across the country over the weekend. Then he’ll focus on getting back to the College National Finals Rodeo.

With his circuit dominance, he qualified to compete at the NFR Open, hosted by Pikes Peak or Bust in Colorado Springs, Colorado in July once again.

“I went once in Kissimmee and this will be my second time in Colorado,” Kilgus noted of the circuit system’s national championship event, open only to the year end and average winners from each of the 12 US circuits as well as the Maple Leaf Circuit in Canada.

“They change it every year so I feel like what you learned in the past there doesn’t matter,” Kilgus said. “Last year, they took the top eight on two head to the final day and this year, they’re advancing three from each set in a back-to-back situation.”

“It will be better I think,” he added. “A guy can go more places instead of having to sit there four or five days to see if you make the finals.”

That freedom could prove helpful as Kilgus plans to change to the Prairie Circuit for the 2024 season. Though he’s mostly given up steer wrestling after a knee injury in August, Kilgus will still be an All Around threat, competing in both the team roping and tie down.

“I’ve never really gone to the Prairie Circuit rodeos because they didn’t count for my circuit in the past,” Kilgus said. Outside of the circuit change, however, he hasn’t made many plans for the new season.

“I bought my card and I’m going to rodeo a little bit and work a little bit. Just see how that goes,” he said.

Tyler Zebrovious will join Kilgus at the NFR Open after nearly doubling his season earnings while in Harrisburg to finish as the year end reserve champion.