COLLEGE STATION, Texas‹The six-time national champion Texas A&M equestrian team will begin its 2007-08 campaign on Sunday by hosting Stephen F. Austin at Freeman Arena in College Station at noon.
This marks the second season that the Aggies will compete in the varsity style of competition against only athletic department-sponsored Division I equestrian teams. Last season A&M compiled an 11-2 overall record on its way to a second place overall finish at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships while the western team won its second national team title in three years.
The Aggies return almost their entire group of riders that competed at last season¹s national championship competition, having lost only a single hunter seat and western rider.
The A&M hunter seat team is loaded with experience heading into this season. Four of the Aggies¹ 10 riders scheduled to compete on Sunday will be seniors in addition to a pair of juniors scheduled to get the start as well.
The Aggies¹ top four fence riders from a year ago return in senior
co-captain Katie Henion (12-5), junior Erin Ivy (9-7) and sophomores Lindsay Smith (9-4) and Kristi Waldal (8-5). On the flat, A&M returns its two winningest riders from last season, senior Ashlie Soderstrom (11-5-1) and junior Christina Matz (10-5).
The western side will be just as deep and experienced for A&M heading into 2007-08. The Aggies posted a 14-1 record in western competition last year with only a lone road loss to Kansas State being the season¹s only blemish.
In horsemanship, juniors Tonna Brooks and Sibyl Parsons and sophomore Caroline Gunn combined to earn a whopping 34 of the Aggies¹ 45 wins a year ago and look to be even better this year. A&M¹s power is just as potent in reining as juniors Brooks and Amanda Ryan and sophomores Maggie Gratny and Maddi Williams claimed 43 of the Aggies¹ 51 wins in the discipline as underclassmen last season.
Though the Aggies have almost all of their go-to girls back from a season ago, A&M wasn¹t quiet by any means on the recruiting trail as they rustled up 11 new riders to not only back up but challenge those already on the No. 2 equestrian program in the country last season.
A&M earned an 11-5 win to begin last season against Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches in the first and only meeting between the two teams in varsity competition. The hunter seat team was stellar, winning 7-1, including a perfect 4-0 sweep over fences. Ashlie Soderstrom earned the first of her five MVP awards on the flat against the Ladyjacks while Maggie Gratny (reining) and Sibyl Parsons (horsemanship) both did likewise on the western side.
Admission to all Texas A&M equestrian events is free of charge. The 12th Man Team Rewards Program will be in attendance to scan in its members as well.
Freeman Arena is located on the west side of FM 2818/Harvey Mitchell
Parkway, approximately one mile north of University Drive.