A new face has joined the Cal Poly rodeo team: Tony Branquinho. He has accepted the position of rodeo coach and will replace Frank Mello, who finished his tenure in June.

Mello will stay on as a rodeo consultant to help Branquinho, 31, make a smooth transition into the program. Branquinho said that Mello has been helpful in easing him into the “paper trail” part of the job.

“It is something that I am really going to enjoy doing,” Branquinho said.

Being in an arena isn’t a problem for Branquinho. He won his first buckle at age 7 and continued his career in high school and college. His career in professional rodeo started at 18.

The Los Alamos native attended West Hills College in Coalinga and later graduated from Fresno State with a degree in liberal studies.

He went on to substitute teach in Los Alamos and Santa Maria while also running his family’s cattle farm. He also comes from a family that has strong roots in rodeo.

His two younger brothers, Casey and Luke, both competed in rodeo in high school and also professionally.

Branquinho will teach the beginning and advanced rodeo classes and will also oversee rodeo practices. In his off time he plans on continuing to compete in rodeo professionally.

“I look forward to the challenges,” Branquinho said.

He plans on recruiting more talent and building on the already successful team. The rodeo team has the potential to win championships in both the men’s and women’s divisions, he said.

“I am inheriting a team that is hitting on all cylinders,” Branquinho said.

The rodeo team won the men’s and women’s divisions in the West Coast Region this year. They also finished in the top ten at the college finals in Wyoming this year.

Improving a winning tradition is just part of what he wants to do. Making the rodeo team more well known on campus is one of his goals, he said.

The program has great potential to become more involved and integrated on campus, Branquinho said, adding that the ability to be hands on with the job is one of the best parts.

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