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Detached tendon doesn’t stop California cowboy from steer wrestling title; sellout crowds fill stands for 85th anniversary
St. Paul, Ore. (July 4, 2021) – Luke Branquinho may have detached his hamstring tendon from the bone, but that didn’t stop him from winning the 2021 St. Paul Rodeo.
The Los Alamos, Calif. cowboy, a five-time world champion, made two solid steer wrestling runs, 4.2 seconds in each of two rounds, to win the average in St. Paul with a time of 8.4 seconds on two head.
He had suffered the hamstring tendon injury at a rodeo in Weatherford, Texas in June and took off about three weeks to rehab it. But there’s no time for surgery, with Branquinho ranked in the top twenty in PRCA world standings, so he’s rehabbing and stretching it, hoping to put off surgery until after the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December, in hopes of competing at the pinnacle of the pro rodeo world for the fifteenth time in his career.
“As of right now, we’ll keep rolling and see how things go,” he said. It isn’t causing any pain, and he wraps it tight before competing.
For Branquinho, in part because of the hamstring tendon detachment, he’s rodeoed less this Cowboy Christmas than any of the last 21 years of his career.
“This is probably the least number of rodeos I’ve gone to” over the lucrative Cowboy Christmas, the days preceding and following Independence Day, he said. He and his traveling partners competed at Livingston, Mont. on July 1, in Cody, Wyo. and Red Lodge, Mont. on July 2, in St. Paul on July 3, then in Eugene, Ore. on July 4.
He was aboard one of the best steer wrestling horses in pro rodeo.
Baby, an American Quarter Horse whose registered name is Babysgonecountry, is owned by Sam Dixon of Lockesburg, Arkansas. Four cowboys are riding the mount this year: Branquino, Jacob Talley, Justin Shaffer and Tucker Allen, all four traveling partners. In part because of the horse’s exceptional ability, Talley finished as reserve champion in St. Paul and is ranked first in the PRCA world standings.
This is the third St. Paul Rodeo buckle for Branquinho; he also won the rodeo in 2006 and 2015. He also won second place at the Livingston, Mont. rodeo on July 4.
In the saddle bronc riding, another world champion took home the gold from St. Paul.
Zeke Thurston, the two-time PRCA world champion saddle bronc rider, won St. Paul with 88 points on the Flying Five Rodeo Co. horse Broken Camp.
He knew the horse would be a challenge but he was ready for it. “That horse really bucks,” he said. “She’s bucked some guys off, but they won lots on her. I was just lucky to draw her, and lucky to make a good ride on her.”
The Big Valley, Alberta cowboy has only won money once at St. Paul, “so to win it would be amazing.
“This is an iconic, prestigious rodeo. It has some of the best horses and some of the best cowboys at it. It’s very unique, with trees in the arena. The crowd is amazing. I’m tickled to death to win it.”
The rodeo saw four sell-out performances and record crowds. Its opening day, June 30, coincided with the first day that Governor Kate Brown lifted all Covid restrictions in the state.
Other 2021 St. Paul Rodeo champions include bareback rider Austin Foss, Terrebonne, Ore. (87.5 points); 2019 world champion tie-down roper Haven Meged, Miles City, Mont. (15.9 seconds on two head); bull rider JC Mortensen, Paulden, Ariz. (87 points); team ropers Kaleb Driggers, Stephenville, Texas and Junior Nogueira, Presidente Prude, Brazil (10.4); and barrel racer Stephanie Fryar, Waco, Texas (17.37).
The 86th St. Paul Rodeo will take place June 30-July 4, 2022. For more information, visit www.StPaulRodeo.com.
Results from the 85th St. Paul Rodeo, June 30-July 4, 2021.
All-around champion: Stetson Wright, Milford, Utah
Bareback riding champion: Austin Foss, Terrebonne, Oregon
Steer wrestling champion: Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, California
Average on two head
Bull riding champion: JC Mortensen
Tie-down roping champion: Haven Meged, Miles City, Montana
Average on two head
Saddle bronc riding champion: Zeke Thurston, Big Valley, Alberta
Ben Andersen, Rocky Mountain, Alb.; Allen Boore, Axtell, Utah and Jack Bentz, Crane, Ore. 86.5 each; 5. Ryder Wright, Beaver, Utah 85.5; 6. Kade Bruno, Challis, Idaho 84.5; 7. Dawson Hay, Wildwood, Alb. 84; 8. Sam Harper, Paradise Valley, Nev. 83.5.
Team roping Champions: Kaleb Driggers, Hoboken, Georgia and Junior Nogueira, Presidente Prude, Brazil
Average on two head
Barrel racing champion: Stephanie Fryar, Waco, Texas
** All results are unofficial. For more information, visit www.StPaulRodeo.com.
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