News & Notes from the Rodeo Trail, March 30

by | Mar 30, 2015

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo team roper York Gill and his girlfriend, Christy Stransky, are in stable condition at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth after their plane crashed on U.S. Hwy. 67 shortly after 9 a.m. March 27. According to the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, the couple had just left the Stephenville Municipal Airport in Gill’s 2001 Piper Saratoga II single-engine aircraft when he reported engine problems. When Gill, 33, attempted to make an emergency landing on the highway, the plane hit a tree and came to rest upside down. Gill competed at the 2011 WNFR with Colby Lovell, and finished 27th in the world in 2014.

Ken Dunn, a former PRCA competitor and a PRCA judge for the past 17 years, lost his home to a fire on March 29. Dunn had just returned home from working the Cotton Blossom Roundup in Nashville, Ga. He and wife, Cherie, were in their garage when a fire started in the bedroom of their home in Montgomery, Ala. Dunn sustained minor burns to his face while attempting to put the fire out, and said that the house was completely burned down and the family lost everything in the fire. He suspects the hot-water heater may have been the cause of the fire. Dunn and his wife have two sons, Cross and Knox – Cross is currently competing in bull riding in the National High School Rodeo Association. A relief fund has been created at First Community Bank of Central Alabama to help the family in this time of need, 715 Wilson St. Wetumpka, AL 36092. Checks can be made out to Ken Dunn.

Rodeo publicist and writer Julie Mankin, who worked at the PRCA from 1998-2001 as public relations coordinator, was involved in a serious car accident on March 24 near her home in Fairfield, Texas. Mankin’s vehicle struck a semi-truck on the highway, and she was airlifted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Mankin underwent surgery to repair facial lacerations on March 25, and had another surgery March 27 to fuse three fractured vertebrae in her neck. She is conscious, but is remains in the Intensive Care Unit. A Go Fund Me account has been set up for donations to help Mankin with her medical bills, and can be found at

After nearly a year-long search to fill the newly-created position of general manager, the Red Bluff Round-Up selected James Miller for the position. Miller, who grew up in Florida, has a broad background involving rodeo and the equestrian industry, including college rodeoing at Texas Christian University, as well as competing in the PRCA. He started as general manager March 23.

B.D. “Bill” Williams, who received his Rodeo Cowboys Association card in 1945, died March 25 at his home in Clarksville, Texas. He was 86. Williams was a judge at the National Finals Rodeo from 1963-65, and was on the stock selection committee. He was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2005. He served in the U.S. Army with the 82nd Airborne Division during the Korean War. Funeral services took place March 27 at the Clarksville Funeral Home. Memorials may be made to the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame; Historic Cowtown Coliseum, 121 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76140 or the Children’s Advocacy Center, 711 Pine Bluff St., Paris, TX 75460.

The rodeo novel “Champion’s Heart” by Mike Yarbro is now being sold in Nook, Kindle, and I-Pad formats through Barnes & Noble (, Amazon, Smashwords, Kobobooks, and several others websites in the United States, Great Britain and South America. It will be available in print form from Createspace and Amazon in about 10 days. Yarbro has committed 10 percent of the gross proceeds of the book to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund and also inserted the JCCF logo on the first inside page with the web link to the fund to encourage reader contributions.

PRCA announcer Cotton Yancey of Pelahatchie, Miss., has a part in the feature film The Free State of Jones, currently being filmed in Louisiana and starring Matthew McConaughey and Keri Russell. The film, due for release in March of 2016, tells the story of a poor farmer from Mississippi who leads a group of rebels against the Confederate army.

A new exhibit showcasing the careers of 1992 World Champion Bareback Rider Wayne Herman and PRCA rodeo clown Steve Tomac will open May 2 at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora. Tickets for the 5:30-10 p.m. premiere are $55 and 1982 World Champion Bull Rider Charlie Sampson will make a guest appearance. For further information call 701.623.2000.

Before competing in the second round of the RAM National Circuit Finals in Kissimmee, Fla.’s Silver Spurs Arena, four-time World Champion Bareback Rider Kaycee Feild was supposed to head next door to Osceola County Stadium to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the March 27 spring training baseball game between the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins. However, the game was cancelled due to rain, meaning Feild had to take a literal raincheck.

PRCA bullfighter Andy Burelle has purchased Ground Master Products LLC, a horse stall flooring business with international reach, from Bill and Jan Pearson in Missouri. Burelle is in the process of moving the business to Ardmore, Okla., and signed up two new customers in his first week at the helm. Burelle has a longstanding relationship with the Pearsons and worked with them on creating Team Oklahoma, the organization that works to gain sponsorship opportunities for Oklahoma rodeo contestants.

California Rodeo Salinas is having a contest to see which of its fans can take the best picture with the yellow bumper sticker which is printed annually to support the rodeo. Fans are encouraged to take the bumper sticker on their travels around the country and world, and submit their best picture to The contest is open through June 5, and the winner will be notified by June 12. The prize is a seven-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab4, donated by Best Buy.

Working as a coach (at alma mater Montana State) has really helped me. A year ago I was so focused on doing well out on the road that I made myself miserable. Working with these unbelievable kids only helps my attitude. It’s a blast. I enjoy working with the breakaway ropers as much as the bulldoggers.”

-Steer wrestler Beau Clark, who is seventh in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings after wins in Denver and San Angelo, Texas

Courtesy of PRCA