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Aggies Head to NCEA Championships

April 10, 2012
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
WACO, Texas-Texas A&M equestrian will be chasing the program's 10th national title this week when the Aggies participate in the 11th National Collegiate Equestrian Championships at Waco's Extraco Events Center (formerly the Heart O'Texas Coliseum). Action will run Thursday through Saturday.

A&M's western team (12-2) enters the competition looking to win an unprecedented fourth straight national championship. The Aggies are the overall No. 1 seed in the draw and will face either Fresno State or New Mexico State in Thursday's quarterfinal round beginning at approximately 4 p.m.

In hunter seat, A&M (7-7) is the No. 7 overall seed and will face 10th-seeded Fresno State in Thursday's first round beginning at 8:30 a.m. A victory would pit the Aggies against No. 2-seed South Carolina in the quarterfinals later that day at 3:30 p.m.

About the NCEA National Championships


The NCEA National Championships are broken into two 12-team brackets, one for each discipline (hunter seat and western) ... the NCEA awards a team champion in each discipline and one overall team champion, based on results in both brackets ... in hunter seat rounds, 8 points is at stake (4 in equitation on the flat, 4 in equitation over fences), with the same amount available in western rounds (4 in horsemanship, 4 in reining) ... the team with the highest total advances to the next round ... in case of a tie, a raw score formula will determine the advancing team.

Following the Action


Texas A&M will provide live results throughout the weekend on aggieathletics.com ... fans can also get news, information and more at www.collegiateequestrian.com and www.baylorbears.com.

In addition, the American Quarter Horse Association, a National Collegiate Equestrian Association sponsor, will offer a free live webcast of the event, beginning at the opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. CT on April 11. AQHA will broadcast the entire event live, ending with the crowning of the 2012 NCEA national champions on April 14. Log on to www.collegiateequestrian.com to watch.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, April 12

8:30 AM - Reining, first round; Flat, first round

12:30 PM - Fences, first round

1:00 PM - Horsemanship, first round

3:30 PM - Flat, quarterfinals (top half of bracket)

4:00 PM - Reining, quarterfinals (top half of bracket)

5:30 PM - Fences, quarterfinals (top half of bracket)

6:00 PM - Horsemanship, quarterfinals (top half of bracket)

Friday, April 13

8:30 AM - Reining, quarterfinals (bottom half of bracket); Flat, quarterfinals (bottom half of bracket)

10:00 AM - Fences, quarterfinals (bottom half of bracket)

10:30 AM - Horsemanship, quarterfinals (bottom half of bracket)

12:30 PM - Flat, semifinals/consolation

12:30 PM - Reining, semifinals/consolation

4:30 PM - Fences, semifinals/consolation

5:00 PM - Horsemanship, semifinals/consolation

Saturday, April 14

8:30 AM - Reining, consolation; Flat, consolation

10:30 AM - Fences, consolation; Horsemanship, consolation

1:30 PM - Flat, championship

2:30 PM - Horsemanship, championship

3:15 PM - Fences, championship

4:15 PM - Reining, championship

First Round/Quarterfinal Matchups (Hunter Seat):

First Round (Thursday, April 12)

(#8) TCU vs (#9) Kansas State

(#5) SMU vs (#12) Tennessee-Martin

(#6) New Mexico State vs (#11) Oklahoma State

(#7) Texas A&M vs (#10) Fresno State

Quarterfinals (Thursday, April 12 & Friday, April 13)

(#1) Auburn vs TCU/K-State winner

(#4) Baylor vs SMU/UTM winner

(#3) Georgia vs NMSU/OSU winner

(#2) South Carolina vs A&M/Fresno winner

First Round/Quarterfinal Matchups (Western):

First Round (Thursday, April 12)

(#8) Fresno State vs (#9) New Mexico State

(#5) South Carolina vs (#12) Tennessee-Martin

(#6) Kansas State vs (#11) South Dakota State

(#7) Baylor vs (#10) TCU

Quarterfinals (Thursday, April 12 & Friday, April 13)

(#1) Texas A&M vs FSU/NMSU winner

(#4) Auburn vs USC/UTM winner

(#3) Georgia vs K-State/SDSU winner

(#2) Oklahoma State vs Baylor/TCU winner

Texas A&M at the NCEA Championship

2012 marks the 11th edition of the NCEA National Championships (formerly Varsity Equestrian National Championships) ... Texas A&M's best overall team finish was in 2002, when the Aggies took first place overall ... A&M has finished second overall (reserve national champions) in four of the last five seasons ...  Texas A&M's western team has won five NCEA titles (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) and is the three-time defending national champion ... the Aggie hunter seat squad's best finish is second (2002 and 2008) and has finished fourth or better in five of its previous appearances ... Auburn is the defending overall national champion.

Texas A&M NCEA Western Roster:

Horsemanship: Kelsey Adams (Sr./Colleyville, TX), Caroline Ammons (So./Englewood, CO), Laura Brainard (Jr./Weatherford, TX), Amanda Brightwell (Jr./San Antonio, TX), Molli Jacobs (Fr./Dover, OH), Katie Lisabeth (Sr./Canton, GA), Cassie Mantor (Jr./Corpus Christi, TX), Carey Nowacek (Jr./San Antonio, TX)

Reining:  Lindsey Bernbaum (So./Dufur, OR), Courtney Dawe (Sr./Scottsdale, AZ), Abigail Grabein (Sr./Houston, TX), Courtney Kile (Jr./Garrison, TX), Becca Murray (Jr./Burbank, CA), Emma Myers (Jr./Yamhill, OR), Ashley Skold (Fr./Evergreen, CO), Laura Sumrall (Fr./Summit, MS)

Texas A&M NCEA Hunter Seat Roster:

Equitation on the Flat:  Marisa Bernal (Sr./Albuquerque, NM), Haley Buchmiller (Fr./Bartlett, IL), Lia Chafee (Sr./Little Compton, RI), Maggie Earle (Sr./Fallbrook, CA), Paige Russell (So./Cochrane, AB), Hannah Soibelman (Sr./Evergreen, CO), Elizabeth Solch (Sr./Cincinnati, OH), Ellie Wilkins (So./Evergreen, CO)

Equitation over Fences:  Kat Barkema (Fr./Warrenton, VA), Lia Chafee (Sr./Little Compton, RI), Leah Chenelle (Fr./Hebron, CT), Maggie Earle (Sr./Fallbrook, CA), Kori Pickett (Jr./Mount Airy, MD), CiCi Riddle (So./Atlanta, GA), Kelsi Shevlin (Jr./Keller, TX), Emily Williams (Jr./Woodbine, MD)

2011-12 Schedule/Results (10-5)

Date    Opponent                               Result

S 23     at Delaware State                  W, 7-6

S 24     vs Fresno State                       W, 12-2

O 8      GEORGIA                               W, 13-10

O 15    at (#10) New Mexico State    W, 12-7

O 28    TCU                                        W, 12-7

N 5      (#5) OKLAHOMA STATE    W, 14-8

N 11    at (#7) Kansas State               W, 11-8

N 18    at (#5) Baylor                          L, 11-12

F 3       at SMU (hunter seat only)     L, 4-6

F 3       at TCU (western only)           W, 5-3

F 25     at (#6) Oklahoma State          L, 10-13

M 2      (#7) KANSAS STATE            W, 14-10

M 10    (#6) BAYLOR                         L, 11-12

M 30    vs (#5) Baylor (Big 12)            W, 9-6

M 31    vs (#4) Oklahoma St (Big 12) L, 8-8

Aggie All-Americans

Texas A&M junior Carey Nowacek was honored by becoming the equestrian program's first-ever first-team All-American, as the National Collegiate Equestrian Association announced its All-America teams (March 30).

Nowacek (pronounced no-WAH-check) was one of four horsemanship riders recognized nationally on the first team. In addition, four other Aggies-seniors Lia Chafee and Hannah Soibelman, and juniors Becca Murray and Amanda Brightwell-earned honorable mention All-America accolades.

NCEA All-America First Team: Carey Nowacek, horsemanship

NCEA All-America Honorable Mention: Lia Chafee (fences), Hannah Soibelman (flat), Amanda Brightwell (horsemanship), Becca Murray (reining)

Big 12 Honors

Texas A&M's Tana McKay was named Coach of the Year, junior Carey Nowacek was tabbed horsemanship rider of the year and a league-high six Aggies earned all-conference honors, as the league office announced its inaugural All-Big 12 Equestrian team (March 29).

Joining Nowacek on the All-Big 12 team were true freshman Leah Chenelle over fences, seniors Hannah Soibelman and Elizabeth Solch on the flat, junior Amanda Brightwell in horsemanship and junior Becca Murray in reining.  Nowacek, Brightwell and Murray were unanimous selections to the squad.

Big 12 Coach of the Year: Tana McKay

Big 12 Horsemanship Rider of the Year: Carey Nowacek

All-Big 12: Leah Chenelle (fences), Hannah Soibelman (flat), Elizabeth Solch (flat), Carey Nowacek (horsemanship), Amanda Brightwell (horsemanship), Becca Murray (reining)

In addition, Texas A&M claimed a league-high six Big 12 "Rider of the Month" honors this year in the conference's first season of sponsorship:

Fences: Maggie Earle (co-December), Lia Chafee (February)

Horsemanship: Carey Nowacek (November and December), Amanda Brightwell (February)

Reining: Lindsey Bernbaum (November)

Racking Up the Awards

Texas A&M riders won 30 of a possible 48 MVP awards throughout the Aggies' regular-season competitions this year (63 percent), and the awards were spread across the disciplines ... western riders accounted for 17 with hunter seat riders winning 13 ... individual MVP leaders were junior Carey Nowacek in horsemanship (5), junior Emily Williams over fences (3) and sophomore Lindsey Bernbaum in reining (3).

Academic Awards Roll In

Eleven Texas A&M student-athletes were recognized with the announcement of the inaugural National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) Academic All-America Team (April 6).

First-team honorees were senior Elizabeth Solch and juniors Kori Pickett and Amanda Brightwell. Aggies earning spots on the second team were seniors Lia Chafee and Hannah Soibelman, juniors Cassie Mantor and Kelsi Shevlin, and sophomore Lindsey Bernbaum. Three others-senior Kelsey Adams and juniors Emma Myers and Emily Williams-earned honorable mention accolades.

Texas A&M placed a league-best 18 student-athletes on the inaugural Academic All-Big 12 Equestrian Team, announced by the Big 12 office on March 27 ... highlighting the Aggie honorees was senior Elizabeth Solch, who was one of just two on the entire 52-member squad to boast a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Along with Solch, Lindsey Bernbaum, Amanda Brightwell, Lia Chafee, Courtney Dawe, Maggie Earle, Cassie Mantor, Kori Pickett, Darby Sherrod, Kelsi Shevlin, Hannah Soibelman, Nancy Sorrell, Megan Webb, Erica Whaley and Emily Williams were first-team honorees (3.20 or higher GPA).  Kelsey Adams, Katie Lisabeth and Emma Myers were named to the second team (3.00-3.19 GPA).

Individual Notes

Senior Lia Chafee (Little Compton, R.I.) will end her Aggie career this weekend as the winningest hunter seat rider in school history ... she enters the NCEA Championships with 42 combined victories ... Chafee is tied for the school record with six career fences MVP awards and ranks second all-time over fences with 30 wins ... is 6-5 all-time at NCEAs (total including both hunter seat disciplines) ... holds the school record for highest score over fences at the event (174 vs South Carolina, 2010).

Senior Courtney Dawe (Scottsdale, Ariz.) has 27 career reining wins, ranking fourth all-time at A&M ... leads all active western riders with a 5-1 career record at NCEAs.

Senior Maggie Earle (Fallbrook, Calif.) has a school record 10 career hunter seat MVPs.

Senior Abigail Grabein (Houston) ranks second all-time among Aggie reiners in both wins (33) and MVPs (5) ... is 4-2 all-time at NCEAs.

Senior Katie Lisabeth (Canton, Ga.) ranks third all-time on the A&M horsemanship lists in wins (37) and MVPs (8) ... has more wins than any other current Aggie rider at NCEAs (8-1 career record).

Junior Carey Nowacek (San Antonio) ranks second all-time on the A&M horsemanship charts in victories (39) and MVPs (13) ... she has more MVP awards than any active Aggie rider on the entire roster ... is a perfect 6-0 all-time at NCEAs.

Senior Elizabeth Solch (Cincinnati, Ohio) is the all-time winningest flat rider in program history (29 wins) ... set the record at last month's Big 12 Championship ... has won 6 of her last 7 rides entering this week's competition.

Senior Hannah Soibelman (Evergreen, Colo.) has a discipline-best 8 wins this year on the flat ... a perfect 4-0 in her career at NCEAs.

Junior Emily Williams (Woodbine, Md.) has 25 career wins on the flat, ranking near the top of the school's career charts in the discipline ... leads the hunter seat squad this season with 3 MVP awards ... is unbeaten all-time at NCEAs (4-0).

2011 Western National Champions

WACO (April 16,  2011)- The Texas A&M western squad claimed an unprecedented third straight national title with a 5-3 victory over Kansas State 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.

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.

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.

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