News & notes from the rodeo trail: January 9, 2012
• Steer wrestler Stan Branco, who has just missed a spot in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo the last two seasons – finishing 16th in both 2010 and 2011 – suffered a broken right leg while playing dodge ball at his grandparents place in Chowchilla, CA, on Christmas Day and will be out “probably until Reno (NV) in June.” Branco said he landed awkwardly, breaking his leg and dislocating his right ankle. He had surgery on Jan. 3 and will have a splint on his leg until he transitions to a cast and then a walking boot. “I’ll be on crutches for six to seven weeks,” Branco said, “and I probably won’t be able to start practicing until just before Reno.” At the time of this latest injury, Branco was just recovering from a separated left shoulder he suffered after the Ram California Circuit Finals Rodeo in October. “I figured I’d get them (the injuries) all out of the way at one time,” he said. “I figure if I’m healthy this summer I’ll go real hard; otherwise I’ll pull back and get myself ready for the 2013 season.”
• Three-time Linderman Award winner Trell Etbauer is back from the injured list and competing again after four months away to complete rehab on his wrist and back – but only in tie-down roping. His 8.7-second run at the SandHills Stock Show & Rodeo in Odessa, TX, has him among the leaders in the first round. Etbauer is projecting a return to steer wrestling at Guymon, OK, in May, and will team rope with his uncle Billy Etbauer, the five-time world champion saddle bronc rider, at a number of Prairie Circuit rodeos this year. Trell does also intend to resume competing as a saddle bronc rider, but has “no time frame for that. I just want to make sure that my back is fully healed up before I do that.”
• Georgian Kevin Ellis, a PRCA bullfighter since 1995 who has worked the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo twice and his own Southeastern Circuit Finals Rodeo 14 times, has decided to retire from the sport while he’s still healthy and at the top of his game. Ellis, 45, will continue working as the barn manager of Berry College’s Gunby Equine Center and assisting Charlie Lowry’s Four L & Diamond S Rodeo Company.
• Former Denver Mayor and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena was grand marshal of the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo in Denver on Jan. 5.