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Western Team Advances to Finals at VENC

April 15, 2011
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

April 15, 2011

WACO, Texas - The Texas A&M western squad will ride for its third straight national title after a convincing 6-1 defeat of Georgia Friday afternoon in the semifinal round of the Varsity Equestrian National Championships.

The top-seeded Aggies will face conference rival and No. 7-seed Kansas State in Saturday's championship round, set to begin at 2:30 p.m. at Waco's Extraco Events Center. It is a rematch of last season's western title match, one which A&M won, 6-2.

Once again, the reiners staked the Aggies to a quick lead, claiming three victories on the rides of senior Randi Standley and juniors Courtney Dawe and Abigail Grabein.

The horsemanship squad then took the momentum and for the second straight day wasted no time clinching the victory. The first rider in the ring, junior Amanda Brightwell, topped UGA's Katelyn Van Allen 152.5-150.5 to put A&M in the finals. Sophomore Carey Nowacek and junior Katie Lisabeth followed with wins to close out the scoring.

The Aggies, the most decorated collegiate western team in the sport's history, will be looking for their fifth national title in the 10-year existence of the VENC. Texas A&M took the western crown in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. While under the umbrella of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), A&M's western squad won three straight titles from 2002-04.

Meanwhile, Texas A&M's hunter seat riders followed suit and kept the Aggies in the hunt for the overall national team title, turning in a dominating performance of their own on Friday.

The team recorded the first shutout in its history at the VENC with a 8-0 blanking of No. 9-seed TCU in a consolation matchup. The No. 5-seed Aggies will now face No. 6-seed South Carolina in Saturday's fifth-place match, scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m.

On the flat, sophomore Kristen Bell joined juniors Lia Chafee, Hannah Soibelman and Elizabeth Solch to become the first Aggie foursome to sweep all four flat rides at the VENC, staking their team to a commanding lead heading into the final discipline of the afternoon.

Not to be outdone, the fences team recorded its second-ever VENC sweep to complete the shutout. Recording victories were Chafee, senior Brooke Coleman, and sophomores Emily Williams and Kori Pickett.

Live results of Saturday's western championship match and hunter seat fifth-place match can be found on aggieathletics.com, while free video can be found on varsityequestrian.com.

VARSITY EQUESTRIAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS
Friday, April 15 - Extraco Events Center - Waco, Texas

WESTERN

Friday's Semifinal: (#1) Texas A&M 6, (#4) Georgia 1
Saturday's Championship: (#1) Texas A&M vs (#7) Kansas State, 2:30 p.m.

HUNTER SEAT

Friday's Consolation: (#5) Texas A&M 8, (#9) TCU 0
Saturday's 5th Place Match: (#5) Texas A&M vs (#6) South Carolina, 8:30 a.m.

WESTERN SEMIFINALS: (#1) Texas A&M 6, (#4) Georgia 1

Reining: A&M 3, Georgia 0
Becca Murray (A&M) tied Diandra St. Hilaire (UGA)
Randi Standley (A&M) def. Becca Haaland (UGA), 142-141.5
Courtney Dawe (A&M) def. McKenzie Lantz (UGA), 145-142.5
Abigail Grabein (A&M) def. Hannah Dyer (UGA), 132-125

Horsemanship: A&M 3, Georgia 1
Amanda Brightwell (A&M) def. Katelyn Van Allen (UGA), 152.5-150.5
Carey Nowacek (A&M) def. Dana Wilson (UGA), 151-147.5
Katie Lisabeth (A&M) def. Anna Sasser (UGA), 154.5-148
Maria Salazar (UGA) def. Randi Standley (A&M), 153-152

HUNTER SEAT CONSOLATION: (#5) Texas A&M 8, (#9) TCU 0

Flat: A&M 4, TCU 0
Lia Chafee (A&M) def. Jessica Hagen (TCU), 147-139
Hannah Soibelman (A&M) def. Tassie Munroe (TCU), 154-150
Kristin Bell (A&M) def. Milana Trimino (TCU), 138-133
Elizabeth Solch (A&M) def. Haley Jacobi (TCU), 153-144

Fences: A&M 4, TCU 0
Lia Chafee (A&M) def. Victoria Lee (TCU), 155-136
Emily Williams (A&M) def. Taylor Frederick (TCU), 128-60
Kori Pickett (A&M) def. Caitlin Ader (TCU), 167-150
Brooke Coleman (A&M) def. Callie Salchau (TCU), 156-124

Pluhar to Represent Texas A&M at AQHA Collegiate Challenge
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