COLLEGE STATION, Texas‹The Texas A&M equestrian team jumped on the back of its hunter seat riders and ran off with a suspenseful 11-9 victory in a battle of undefeated perennial national championship contenders at N.W. Dick Freeman Arena on Saturday.
The hunter seat, western, and overall team winners were not decided until the final ride of each of the three sections in the Aggies¹ most meaningful competition of the season to this point.
A&M¹s hunter seat team scored a 6-4 upset over Georgia, who competed for the hunter seat national championship against South Carolina just six months ago in Waco.
With the hunter seat match in the balance, Aggie sophomore Brittney Dodson (Amarillo), who was riding in just the fifth competition of her collegiate career, hit one out of the park with an impressive 80-77 flat win over Georgia junior Melinda Drury. Dodson equaled the highest score of the day by the judge and nearly wrestled control of the day¹s MVP honor away from Georgia superstar Haylie Jayne who won both the fences and flat honor.
The win gave A&M hunter seat coach Linzy Woolf her first coaching victory over her former collegiate coach at A&M, Meghan (Nolan) Boenig.
³This is the most meaningful win of my coaching career,² Woolf said.
³Georgia has been at the top of the hunter seat division for several years and we have been fighting to get to where they¹re at. For our girls to come in and do what they did today, especially this early in the season, makes me very proud not only of where we are at and how far we have come, but the potential that we have as the season goes on. This win really means a lot not only to me but to our whole team.²
With the overall match in the balance, freshman Randi Standley
(Madisonville), competing in reining for the first time in her collegiate
career, came through with a huge 69.5-68.5 win in the final ride of the day over Georgia junior Christina Grant to secure the 11-9 win for A&M.
³I knew what the situation was before I went in and I knew what score I needed to get,² Standley said. ³I just went in and tried to stay in control,
do what I needed to do and avoid mistakes. It was very exciting to have the chance to come through for the team.²
Despite Saturday being only Standley¹s second time to compete for the Aggies in any discipline, she carried the banner for a western squad that dropped their match, 791-788.5, after the two schools tied at four wins apiece.
Standley was responsible for half the Aggies¹ western win victories, though four individual match-ups did end in ties. Standley defeated Georgia freshman Lana Wirsig, 74.5-72.5, in horsemanship in addition to her clutch reining debut.
The Aggies earned the majority of their days¹ victories from their
equitation on the flat riders. The flat riders 4-2 victory ended up
providing the final margin in the overall win.
Redshirt sophomore Christina Heine (Toledo, Ohio) earned the first win of her collegiate career, and the first flat win of the day for A&M, with a
76-75 triumph over Georgia junior Lauren Kulwicki. Freshman Brooke Coleman (Houston) rebounded from the first loss of her collegiate career over fences to grab a 65-62 flat win over Georgia sophomore Daisy Whelan. Senior Lindsey Lawrence (College Station) continued her undefeated streak with a 68-0 win over Bulldog senior Michelle Blair.
The Aggies won three of their six matches over fences against the Bulldogs.
Sophomore Kristi Waldal (Battle Ground, Wash.) came away with the most convincing win, an 82-67 effort over Melinda Drury. Sophomore Lindsay Smith (West Friendship, Md.) kept her seasonal record spotless at 3-0 with a 79-70 win over Bulldog sophomore Daisy Whelan. Senior co-captain Katie Henion (Austin) secured A&M¹s third fences win, an 81-72 triumph over Georgia junior Kelley Cowperthwait.
Senior Genna Fishgold (Scottsdale, Ariz.) was named reining MVP after a solid 72.5-66 win over Georgia junior Nichole Grant. Fishgold ran her seasonal record to 2-1 after going 3-1 last year following spending two years at Colorado State.
Junior Tonna Brooks (Newberg, Ore.) got back on the winning track in
horsemanship with the highest western score of the day in a 75-74.5
shoot-out over Georgia freshman Laura Upton. Junior Amanda Ryan (Ramona, Calif.) won MVP honors after impressing the judge in a 71.5-71.5 tie with Georgia sophomore Alicia Shrum.
A&M¹s win moves its seasonal record to 3-0 while Georgia falls to 4-1. A&M¹s
hunter seat team also moves to 3-0 while the Aggies¹ western squad drops to 2-1 with the tiebreaker loss.
The Aggies will be back at it bright and early on Sunday to take on the
Baylor Bears (0-3) at 10 a.m. at N.W. ŒDick¹ Freeman Arena. Sunday will also be 4-H Day. Coloring and face painting stations will return as will the chance to have your picture taken with a pony. There will be additional giveaways and an IPOD will be awarded to a lucky fan that attends both of this weekend¹s shows.
Admission to equestrian shows is free of charge. Freeman Arena is located on the west side of FM 2818/Harvey Mitchell Parkway, approximately one mile north of University Drive.