COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The sixth-ranked Texas A&M equestrian team starts the 2013-14 season this Saturday at No. 5 Kansas State (2-1, 1-0 Big 12). The Aggies and Wildcats will begin the meet at 10 a.m. CT at Timbercreek Stables in Manhattan, Kan.
“We are really looking forward to getting this season started,” Head Coach Tana McKay said. “Our team is full of talent and we have several leaders returning to the ring from last year, and after the Maroon & White Scrimmage I’m excited for the competition our underclassmen will bring as well.”
The Aggies ended the 2012-13 season at the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) Championships in Waco, with both the hunter seat and western squads finishing in the quarterfinal round. The 11-time National Champions posted a 7-10 overall record with a 5-7 mark in hunt seat and a 6-6 tally in western.
Texas A&M entered the fall of 2012 tied for No. 1 in the nation and remained in the top 10 throughout the season, ending the year ranked No. 8 in the NCEA poll. The Aggies faced nine top-10 opponents (out of 11 meets) in the regular season, including three matchups with the top-ranked team. The Aggies were one of four challenging Southeastern Conference teams, in their first year of being sponsored by the conference, that were often ranked first-through-fourth on NCEA lists.
This year, the team returns 37 riders from last season’s squad. Among the returning student-athletes are 2013 NCEA All-American Molli Jacobs, All-SEC selection Laura Sumrall and four sophomores – the most of any school in the conference – who were listed on the SEC All-Freshman team in the spring: Hannah Jechow, Marlena Parker, Logan Pluhar and Hannah Williams. The Aggies also welcome 15 newcomers to the roster for their second season in the SEC.
Parker (5 wins, 1 MOP) and Shelby Lawson (5 wins, 1 MOP) will head up the over fences squad, while Williams (6 wins, 1 MOP) and Haley Buchmiller (7 wins, 2 MOPs) are the top returners for the equitation on the flat team.
On the western side, Laura Brainard (6 wins, 4 MOPs) and Jacobs (7 wins, 3 MOPs) led the horsemanship squad in 2012. Reining riders Lindsey Bernbaum (6 wins, 1 MOP), Ashley Skold (6 wins, 2 MOPs) and Laura Sumrall (7 wins, 2 MOPs) are the top returners for that event.
The Aggies and Wildcats have met 16 times in the past, with Texas A&M leading the all-time series 14-2. The former Big 12 foes last met in College Station in the spring of 2011, when the Aggies rallied to a 14-10 victory. The Wildcats have already competed three times this season, dropping their season opener to South Carolina, and defeating Delaware State and Oklahoma State.
In January of 2014, the Texas A&M equestrian team will make the move from the Brazos County Expo Complex in Bryan to Texas A&M’s brand new Thomas G. Hildebrand DVM ’56 Equine Complex in College Station. The state-of-the-art facility is shared by several equine programs on campus, including the Parsons Mounted Cavalry and College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM).
The area for the Aggie Equestrian team will include locker rooms, offices, a concessions building, a 50-stall barn, two covered warm-up arenas and two covered competition arenas – making it the premier collegiate equestrian facility in the country.
Fans interested in following the action on Saturday can get scoring updates via Twitter at @AggieEquestrian.
To learn more about Texas A&M equestrian, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow the team's Twitter feed.