Luke Branquinho captures Super Series V at RodeoHouston

Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos, CA competes in steer wrestling at RodeoHouston during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in NRG Stadium Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Houston.

  Photo: Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle

By Jason McDaniel  Houston Chronicle

Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos, CA competes in steer wrestling at RodeoHouston during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in NRG Stadium Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Houston.

Five-time world champion steer wrestler Luke Branquinho has won almost every big rodeo in the country.

But for 15 long years, RodeoHouston eluded him.

The California cowboy finally broke through last year, and with a $53,850 payout, it was well worth the wait.

"I'd always heard about Houston, growing up as a kid, but never had been able to come experience it until I was a contestant," Branquinho said. "So winning my first go-round here my rookie year was great.

"And then taking so long from that win to winning the rodeo, and the $50,000, made it very special. It ranks right up there at the top with any of the championships I've won because of how prestigious it is."

Branquinho picked up where he left off this week.

He won the first two rounds and his series, exiting Super Series V with $7,000 Tuesday at NRG Stadium.

"Winning's contagious," Branquinho said.

The 35-year-old was second here two years ago, so he felt like he was heading in the right direction.

But he'd been close and come up short before.

He was the last bulldogger in the four-man Shootout six years ago but broke the barrier on his way out of the chute.

So finally pulling through last year was a sigh of relief.

"I had great steers, a great hazer, a great bulldogging horse that I rode, and everything just worked out," Branquinho said. "I think I outdrew them in the four-man. I probably had the best steer that round."

Ryan Jarrett's on a similar path.

The veteran tie-down roper won his first championship last year in his 12th appearance here, making him $58,750.

And he started his defense with a series win, too.

The 32-year-old tied Trevor Brazile with $5,000 and won on a tiebreaker – though neither fared well Tuesday.

Brazile missed his calf and Jarrett broke the barrier, but his catch gave him the series.

"I really didn't think I was going to be that early out the start, which made me break the barrier, but I knew I had a pretty good calf," Jarrett said. "I didn't really want it to finish this way."

Hunter Herrin won the third round of tie-down in 7.6 seconds, which is the fastest time through 15 days of rodeo.

The record is 7.5 seconds set by Brazile in 2010.

Three-time and reigning Houston champion saddle bronc rider Kaycee Feild won his series with $6,000.

He took the last two rounds with a pair of 88s.

Derrick Begay and Clay Cooper, and Dustin Bird and Russell Cardoza, tied at the top of team roping with $8,000.

Canadian Layton Green ($6,750) won two rounds and the series in saddle bronc. Wade Sundell, the 2013 champ in Houston, also moved on to the semifinals, which run Wednesday and Thursday.

Lisa Lockhart ($8,000) ran away with the barrel racing series, winning two rounds, and Brennon Eldred ($4,250) was the big winner in bull riding.

Jason McDaniel is a freelance writer.