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National Champs Hold Annual Banquet

May 05, 2012
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
COLLEGE STATION-The national champion Texas A&M equestrian team concluded one of its most successful seasons in program history on Saturday afternoon with the annual team banquet at the Zone Club at Kyle Field.

The Aggies won their first overall national title since 2002 and also took home their fourth consecutive western national crown, and became the first school in the history of the National Collegiate Equestrian Championships to advance both disciplines to the final round.

The team gave out most valuable player honors in each of the four disciplines along with numerous other individual awards.

Junior Carey Nowacek (San Antonio) was named horsemanship MVP for the second consecutive season after leading the entire equestrian team in wins (12) and MVPs (5). She was rewarded by winning the Big 12's Rider of the Year for her discipline and became the first Aggie in program history to earn first-team All-America honors.

Reining MVP went to sophomore Lindsey Bernbaum (Dufur, Ore.). She led the discipline with 11 wins and 3 MVPs, and went unbeaten throughout the postseason to lead A&M to the Big 12 finals and an unprecedented fourth straight western national championship.

True freshman Haley Buchmiller (Bartlett, Ill.) earned MVP honors on the flat, finishing the year with nine wins and setting a school record by winning 80 percent of her rides-including a perfect 4-0 mark in her first-ever appearance at the NCEA Championships.

Senior Maggie Earle (Fallbrook, Calif.) became the program's first two-time winner of the team's MVP award over fences after going 10-4-1 on the year putting together the greatest individual performance in school history at NCEAs. She went unbeaten over the final month of the season, and posted the two highest fences scores ever by an A&M rider at nationals.

Two freshman, Buchmiller and Leah Chenelle, shared Rookie of the Year honors. The duo combined for 18 wins in 2012 and a 7-1 record at the NCEA Championships. Over fences, Leah Chenelle (Hebron, Conn.) became A&M's first freshman to ever be named to the All-Big 12 team, picking up nine victories and going 3-1 at NCEAs. On the flat, Buchmiller set a school record for winning percentage, earned nine victories of her own and went undefeated at nationals.

The winner of the inaugural Iron Horse Award, given to the team member who has shown the most dedication and improvement in the weight room, was senior Courtney Dawe (Scottsdale, Ariz.).

This season's Most Improved Award went to junior horsemanship rider Laura Brainard (Weatherford, Texas).

The coveted Aggie Heart Award, presented to the team member that best exemplifies what it means to be an Aggie, always puts the team's needs ahead of her own while setting a positive example both in and out of the arena, and strives to push others to be their best, was presented to junior Kori Pickett (Mount Airy, Md.).

Seniors Lia Chafee (Little Compton, R.I.) and Elizabeth Solch (Cincinnati, Ohio) were presented with special career achievement awards, honoring each as the winningest hunter seat and flat riders in the history of the program.

In addition, the team announced captains for the 2012-13 season: Pickett (hunter seat), Amanda Brightwell (horsemanship) and Becca Murray (reining).

The Aggies have five home meets scheduled for next year and will open the regular  season on Sept. 22 at South Dakota State.

2011-12 TEXAS A&M EQUESTRIAN TEAM AWARD WINNERS

Most Valuable Riders

Maggie Earle - Equitation over Fences

Haley Buchmiller - Equitation on the Flat

Carey Nowacek - Horsemanship

Lindsey Bernbaum - Reining

Aggie Heart Award:   Kori Pickett

Career Achievement Awards:  Lia Chafee and Elizabeth Solch

Rookies of the Year:  Leah Chenelle and Haley Buchmiller

Most Improved:  Laura Brainard

Iron Horse:  Courtney Dawe

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