Luke Branquinho suffered a gruesome hamstring injury at the beginning of the summer run, but the five-time PRCA World Champion Steer Wrestler didn’t let it slow him down for long.
The Los Alamos, Calif., cowboy wrapped up his Fourth of July run over the weekend by winning the average at the 85th annual St. Paul (Ore.) Rodeo. He put together a couple solid runs to finish in 8.4 seconds on two head.
“We were in a great pen of steers, and I had a great set of guys to compete against this weekend,” said Branquinho, 40. “I was on a great horse with riding Baby in St. Paul. Jacob Talley’s been riding her the last few years at the (Wrangler National Finals Rodeo). The mare’s been working awesome, I won a pile on her over the last week or so.”
In addition to his win at St. Paul, Branquinho, who won world titles in 2004, 2008, 2011-12 and 2014, also finished second at the Livingston (Mont.) Roundup Rodeo. He went into the weekend sitting 18th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $20,515, just $2,971 behind Marc Joiner for the 15th spot in the world. Branquinho’s performance at St. Paul added $7,597 to his season earnings. This Cowboy Christmas run has him in a prime spot to climb the standings.
“Obviously, anytime somebody can have a great run like that over Cowboy Christmas it’s going to help, especially being that close in the standings,” Branquinho said. “I missed over three weeks with my hamstring injury, so being able to come back strong, going to five rodeos and winning what I did over the Fourth is awesome no matter where you’re at.”
Branquinho, who said he tore his hamstring, admits the injury still bothers him at times, but he puts that to the back of his mind once he climbs aboard that horse. His only focus is getting back to the Wrangler NFR for the first time since 2015.
“You can’t worry about it, there’s nothing that you can do. Whether you’re hurt or not you have to go make your runs and give it your all no matter what,” Branquinho said. “It would mean everything to get back to Vegas. Each year I set out with the goal to make the Wrangler NFR and win a gold buckle.”
Other winners at the $326,796 rodeo were bareback rider Austin Foss (87.5 points on Flying 5 Rodeo’s Cougar Country); team ropers Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira (10.4 seconds on two head); saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston (88 points on Big Bend Rodeo’s Broken Camp); tie-down roper Haven Meged (15.9 seconds on two head); and bull rider JC Mortensen (87 points on Corey & Lange Rodeo’s Highway to Hell).
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