Equestrian Team Cages Bears, 12-8

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WACO -- The Texas A&M equestrian team got back on the winning track with a 12-8 win over Baylor on Friday afternoon at the Willis Family Equestrian Center.

The Aggie western riders grabbed a 7-3 win in the indoor pen while the hunter seat squad squeaked out a big come-from-behind tiebreaker victory in the outdoor ring after riding to a 5-5 draw.

The reining and fences groups rebounded from tough losses last Saturday at Auburn to lead the way for the overall team against Baylor. One week after coming out on the wrong end of a 5-0 decision, A&M’s reining riders set the tone for the day against Baylor with a 4-1 win in the first of the four disciplines to be decided.

“It was nice to get on the road, have some successful rides and get back on the winning track,” A&M head coach Tana Rawson said. “It was a little bit of a change of pace starting the show off with reining today. The reining girls did a great job of making the changes we talked about after a having a tough time last week. They really got the team off to a good start today.”

Freshman Randi Standley (Madisonville) led the way individually for the Aggies, earning wins in both reining and horsemanship. Standley’s 71-68.5 horsemanship win over Maggie Griffin pushed her record in the discipline to an impressive 6-1 mark while her 7-67.5 reining win over Nicole McCoy evened her seasonal reining record to 2-2.

Sophomore Maggie Gratny (Leavenworth, Kan.) equaled the highest score of the day for the western team with a 73-70.5 reining win over Baylor’s Katie Buss. Senior Genna Fishgold (Scottsdale, Ariz.) evened her seasonal reining record to 4-4 with a 66-0 blanking of the Bears’ Valtie Riddle. Freshman Tara Christiansen (Snohomish, Wash.) improved to 2-1-1 in the reining division with a 70-69 win over Baylor’s Kim Marlowe.

A&M fence riders brought the hunter seat squad back from the brink of defeat by winning four of their five matches. The fence riders were the model of consistency as all five athletes earned scores between 75 and 79.

Senior co-captain Katie Henion (Austin) posted the Aggies’ highest fence score in a 79-65 win over Shelby White. Three underclassmen earned wins over fences against the Bears as well. Co-captain Lindsay Smith (West Friendship, Md.) locked up the hunter seat team victory for the Aggies with a 75-50 win in the final match of the day. Sophomore Kristi Waldal (Battle Ground, Wash.) broke a three-match losing streak with a solid 76-70 win over Beth Bannister. Freshman Brooke Coleman (Houston) earned her second fences win in her last three rides with a 76-74 win over Mary Smitson.

“The fence girls had a lot of pressure on them today,” A&M hunter seat coach Linzy Woolf said. “We knew we were going into a tough situation and we had to ride almost perfect to achieve a win. I couldn’t have asked anything more of any of our five fence girls today. They were amazing.”

In horsemanship, sophomore sensation Caroline Gunn (Greensburg, Ind.) equaled the Aggies’ highest western score of the day in a 73-69.5 horsemanship win over the Bears’ Allison Orosz. Senior Christine Sceets (Baytown) earned her second horsemanship win of the season with a 71-70.5 over Lindsey Douglas.

Sophomore Christina Heine (Toledo, Ohio) was the lone Aggie to scratch the win column in equitation on the flat. Heine earned a 72-48 win over Baylor’s Cara Wilson in what has been the Aggies’ most dominant discipline this season.

In exhibition action, the Aggie western riders won three of their four matches. Junior Amanda Ryan (Ramona, Calif.) and sophomore Leah Ward (Terrell) earned dominating wins in reining while freshman Haley Cooper (Southlake) was victorious in her horsemanship match against the Bears’ Morgan Williams.

Redshirt freshman Morgan Lucas (San Antonio) and freshman Henny Armstrong (Palm Beach, Fla.) earned hunter seat exhibitions wins with Lucas winning on the flat and Armstrong doing likewise over fences. Redshirt freshman Merrin Mueller (Long Beach, Miss.) and freshman Julie Pipoly (Toledo, Ohio) earned ties in their exhibition fence rides as well.

With the win, A&M moves its seasonal record to 7-2. The hunter seat team also improves to 7-2 while the national champion western squad ups its mark to 5-3.

The Aggies will be back in action on Feb. 23 when they host Big 12 rival Kansas State at N.W. Dick Freeman Arena