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Aggie Riders Add Five to Signing Class

May 09, 2011
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

May 9, 2011

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The nine-time national champion Texas A&M equestrian team inked five student-athletes to national letters of intent in the spring signing period, head coach Tana McKay announced Monday.

Joining the Aggies this fall will be hunter seat riders Kat Barkema (Warrenton, Va.), Leah Chenelle (Hebron, Conn.), and Amber Hunsicker (Nuevo, Calif.), as well as western riders Shelby St. Hilaire (Yamhill, Ore.) and Alyssa Soechting (New Braunfels, Texas).

"We are thrilled to have this group of young ladies join the Texas A&M equestrian and Aggie families," McKay said. "Their talents and experience will prove invaluable as we continue to build on this program's success in the near future."

Along with the five fall signees, this group brings the 2010-11 Aggie equestrian signing class to 10.

Texas A&M recently wrapped up arguably the most successful season in school history, going 12-1, claiming the program's first Big 12 title and winning its third consecutive western national championship.

Fr-HS • Hunter Seat • Warrenton, Virginia (Kettle Run HS)

Kat Barkema is the daughter of George and Lisa Barkema of Warrenton, Virginia ... will graduate early with honors this spring from Kettle Run High School ... qualified for the United States Equestrian Federation's Medal Finals for a third straight year and was reserve champion at the Virginia Horse Shows Association Medal Finals in 2010 ... was the overall hunter seat winner at the nation's oldest show, the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, last season ... claimed the VHSA's Medal Finals reserve champion title in 2009 ... took home reserve champion honors in the VHSA's Equitation finals in 2008 ... trainer is Kim Prince of Hume, Virginia.

A&M Associate Head Coach/Hunter Seat Coach Linzy Woolf: "We are delighted to welcome Kat to the Aggie Equestrian family. Kat has been a hard worker and proven herself as a top contender in the hunter, jumper and Big Eq. classes under the direction of renowned trainer Kim Prince. Kat has already expressed and shown a strong passion for Texas A&M, and I know she will have a huge impact on our future success."

Fr-HS • Hunter Seat • Hebron, Connecticut (UNL Independent Study HS)

Leah Chenelle is the daughter of Armand and Martha Chenelle of Hebron, Connecticut ... has showed in the finals of many prestigious events, including the Maclay Medal FInals, Devon, USEF Medal Finals, USEF Talent Searches, and the Hampton Classic ... placed ninth in the New England Finals, and was a member of the gold-medal winning team in the Challenge of the States at the event ... claimed top ribbons at the Winter Equestrian Festival, Saratoga, Lake Placid and the Vermont Summer Festival ... placed seventh in the regional equitation championship and 10th in the Zone 1 equitation championship and this year's Maclay Regionals ... trained by her parents, Armand and Martha, and Missy Clark.

A&M Associate Head Coach/Hunter Seat Coach Linzy Woolf: "We are thrilled to welcome Leah to our Aggie family. Leah's parents are very successful trainers that are involved with high school and college level riding programs in and around Connecticut. She has been fortunate enough to learn from both her parents and the equitation great Missy Clark how to be an expert catch-rider, which I believe will help her to excel in the competition ring here at Texas A&M."

Fr-HS • Hunter Seat • Nuevo, California (Heritage HS)

Amber Hunsicker is the daughter of Jim and Melinda Hunsicker of Nuevo, California ... has ridden to division championships in multiple areas, including children's hunters, children's jumpers and equitation ... qualified for the California Professional Horsemen's Association junior finals, Maclay Regionals and the West Coast Equitation finals ... trainer is Hap Hansen of Rancho Santa Fe, California.

A&M Associate Head Coach/Hunter Seat Coach Linzy Woolf: "Amber showed a passion for Texas A&M from the start. I believe she will use that excitement and passion to bring a lot to our hunter seat squad. Amber has had the privilege of riding with one of the greats in our industry - Hap Hansen - for several years. Her experiences getting to ride for such a legend should really help her in the collegiate equestrian world."

Fr-HS • Reining • Yamhill, Oregon (Yamhill Carlton HS)

Daughter of Tom and Molly St. Hilaire of Yamhill, Oregon ... will graduate from Yamhill Carlton High School this spring ... is a multiple-time Lawson Trophy winner and Morrison Trophy winner ... won the Loot for Grassroots competition at the International Reining Festival in 2009 ... was an American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Champion in reining in 2007 ... won the Washington Reining Horse Association's year-end high-point saddle award in 2006 ... trainer is her father, Tom St. Hilaire.

A&M Head Coach/Reining Coach Tana McKay: "We are very excited about adding Shelby to our roster. She is a very talented, accomplished athlete and I know she will make a great addition to the Aggie family."

Fr-HS • Horsemanship • New Braunfels, Texas (Canyon HS)

Daughter of T. Dudley and Laurie Soechting of New Braunfels ... will graduate this spring from Canyon High School ... has been competing in AQHA shows throughout Texas and the country for years ... has numerous top-10 and top-5 finishes under her belt ... finished in the top five at the 2010 All-American Quarter Horse Congress ... trainer is Brad Jewett of San Antonio ... also played libero on the Canyon High School volleyball team ... is a member of the 2011 State Qualifying horse judging team and an avid fisherman.

A&M Horsemanship Coach Beth Bass: "Alyssa trains with Brad Jewett, who did a superb job preparing Carey Nowacek and Amanda Brightwell for collegiate competition, and I expect the same results from her. She will make a wonderful addition to our horsemanship team."



Kat Barkema Hunter Seat Warrenton, Va. (Kettle Run HS)
*Kayla Briel Hunter Seat Coppell, Texas (Coppell HS)
*Haley Buchmiller Hunter Seat Bartlett, Ill. (South Elgin HS)
Leah Chenelle Hunter Seat Hebron, Conn. (UNL Independent Study HS)
*Megan Gunther Reining Tomball, Texas (Tomball HS)
Amber Hunsicker Hunter Seat Nuevo, Calif. (Heritage HS)
*Molli Jacobs Horsemanship Dover, Ohio (Garaway HS)
Shelby St. Hilaire Reining Yamhill, Ore. (Yamhill Carlton HS)
Alyssa Soechting Horsemanship New Braunfels, Texas (Canyon HS)
*Laura Sumrall Reining Summit, Miss. (Parklane Academy)

* fall 2010 signee
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