WACO, Texas (KLTV) - A 17-year-old from Lindale earned world champion honors in the tie-down roping competition at a Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Finals event that was held in Waco on Oct. 26.
Montana “Gracie” Gambino who will turn 18 next month, finished almost $1,000 ahead of South Dakota native Tanegai Zilverberg, the reserve champion, according to a press release. She finished third in the average in Waco by catching all four head of cattle, and she placed in three out of four rounds.
“I am extremely blessed to have the support of our community, family, and friends. It takes a village of people to make this dream happen,” Gambino said. “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work for us ladies, our families, and our equine partners, and every competitor has earned the right to compete in Waco,” said Gracie. “It is extremely exciting for a young lady to get to compete against the top women ropers in the world for a chance to earn a world title.”
Gambino added that she is blessed and that she gives all the glory to Jesus Christ, her savior, for the incredible opportunity to compete at the World Finals.
In addition to earning the world champion honor in the tie-down roping event, Gambino also finished the WPRA season ranked No. 5 as the All-Around Cowgirl in the World among household names like Jackie Crawford, Kelsie Chace, Hope Thompson, and Jordan Fabrizio.
While she was in Waco, Gambino also competed in the team roping, breakaway roping, and barrel racing events. She earned money in every event she competed in at the World Finals and finished fifth in the average in team roping and fourth in the junior barrel racing competition, the press release stated.
Gambino expressed her gratitude to all of her sponsors and the sponsors of the WPRA World Finals.
The 17-year-old earned more than $10,000 in prize money and awards at the World Finals event, which was held at the Extraco Event Center in Waco.
According to the press release, Gambino bought her WPRA junior roping card in 2017 and has quickly climbed the ranks.
Gambino loves all things related to rodeo and horses, the press release stated. She lives on her family’s ranch in the Red Springs community, just outside of Lindale.
“She participates in many different events within rodeos and other equestrian competitions. Gracie is extremely appreciative of everyone who has supported her along her journey,” the press release stated. “She has many teachers, coaches, sponsors, and cheerleaders that have made it possible for her to live her dreams inside the arena.”
The press release stated that Jamie Smith, a legally blind East Texas man that the teen calls her inspiration, taught Gambino how to rope after she decided that she was interested three years ago.
Smith would often go to roping events with Gambino and be unable to compete because the arena was too dark to see his calf. However, when that happened, he cheered for Gambino and gave her pointers.
“Jamie is such an inspiration,” Gambino said. “My parents gave me a hard time when I started roping, and they would take me to his house to practice, and we would have a match roping, and he would beat me. We all laughed about me getting beat by a blind man, but he can rope with the best of them!”
Smith also sold Gambino Grayman, her horse.
“Grayman, registered name Stylish Especial, is a 7-year-old AQHA gelding that is an amazing all-around horse,” the press release stated. “Gracie credits him with much of her success in the calf roping and barrel racing arenas. She has owned Grayman for the last two years and won many saddles, buckles, and prizes on him.”
The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association is the oldest women’s sports organization in the country. It was founded in 1948 when a group of Texas ranch women decided they wanted to “add a little color and femininity to the rough-and-tumble sport of rodeo.”
“Today, the association boasts more than 3,000 members, over 1,500 events and payouts totaling over $5 million,” the press release stated. “The WPRA, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., provides opportunities for women across the United States and Canada to compete in the timed events of barrel racing, team roping, breakaway roping, and tie-down roping.”