April 16, 2011
WACO, Texas - The Texas A&M western squad claimed an unprecedented third straight national title with a 5-3 victory over Kansas State Saturday afternoon in the finals of the Varsity Equestrian National Championships.
The Aggies, the most decorated collegiate western team in the sport's history, earned their fifth national title in the 10-year existence of the VENC. Texas A&M has won the western crown in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and now 2011. While under the umbrella of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), A&M's western squad won three straight titles from 2002-04. Combined with the program's overall national title in 2002, the Aggie equestrian team has taken home nine national championships since it was formed in the fall of 1999.
"There's nothing like a hat trick, that's for sure," head coach Tana McKay said. "We're excited to be able to bring this championship back to the university, especially with all the success the other sports have had. People can take it for granted when you are at the top, but our girls have never taken it for granted. The teams we play keep us working hard and keep us on our toes. Today was an awesome competition. K-State proved they should have been there and they made us work for it. All the hard work for an entire year paid off and came down to this moment, and our kids deserved it. I couldn't be happier for them."
This time around it was the horsemanship riders who put the Aggies ahead early. Wins by junior Katie Lisabeth, senior Randi Standley and sophomore Carey Nowacek had A&M needing just two reining points to win the title.
"Our first group in the ring has gotten us off to a great start all weekend and today was no different," McKay said. "It just shows how mentally focused and confident everyone was from the word go."
A 145-point ride and victory by sophomore reiner Courtney Dawe set the stage and, after a narrow K-State win on the second ride kept the Wildcats alive, sophomore Becca Murray earned the decisive fifth and clinching point that successfully defended A&M's title.
On the hunter seat side, A&M's riders closed out their year with a sixth-place finish at nationals, dropping a 5-3 decision to South Carolina earlier in the morning. Flat riders Lia Chafee and Hannah Soibelman and fences rider Emily Williams earned season-ending wins.
The efforts of both the hunter seat and western teams earned the Aggies a third-place finish in the overall team standings, the fifth straight year that A&M has finished third or better.
"Only a few showed, but we had a bunch of girls here," McKay said. "It took all of them and all of that work to get to this point. We feel strongly that it's the entire team that gets us here and wins these championships, not just the ones that were chosen to represent their teammates. Everyone worked so hard this week and it's a great feeling to once again call ourselves national champions."
VARSITY EQUESTRIAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS
Saturday, April 16 - Extraco Events Center - Waco, Texas
Championship: (#1) Texas A&M 5, (#7) Kansas State 3
5th Place Match: (#6) South Carolina 5, (#5) Texas A&M 3
WESTERN CHAMPIONSHIP: (#1) Texas A&M 5, (#7) Kansas State 3
Horsemanship: A&M 3, K-State 1
Katie Lisabeth (A&M) def. Chayna DeNicolo (KSU), 151.5-146
Hannah Ribera (KSU) def. Amanda Brightwell (A&M), 151.5-139
Randi Standley (A&M) def. Rachel Wetherell (KSU), 147.5-134
Carey Nowacek (A&M) def. Kelly Bovaird (KSU), 153-148.5
Reining: A&M 2, K-State 2 (A&M wins on raw score)
Courtney Dawe (A&M) def. Alayna Warner (KSU), 145-129
Sam Etsell (KSU) def. Randi Standley (A&M), 144.5-141.5
Becca Murray (A&M) def. Alecia Zimbelman (KSU), 140-0
Jordan Cox (KSU) def. Abigail Grabein (A&M), 143.5-143
HUNTER SEAT 5TH PLACE: (#6) South Carolina 5, (#5) Texas A&M 3
Flat: South Carolina 2, A&M 2 (SC wins on raw score)
Carolyn Crucio (SC) def. Kristin Bell (A&M), 155-117
Kimberly McCormack (SC) def. Elizabeth Solch (A&M), 147-146
Lia Chafee (A&M) def. Victoria Middleton (SC), 154-149
Hannah Soibelman (A&M) def. Colvin Hedgepeth (SC), 148-144
Fences: South Carolina 3, A&M 1
Paige Dekko (SC) def. Lia Chafee (A&M), 163-146
Carolyn Crucio (SC) def. Kori Pickett (A&M), 151-149
Emily Williams (A&M) def. Alex Arute (SC), 158-156
Kimberly McCormack (SC) def. Brooke Coleman (A&M), 161-157