COLLEGE STATION, Texas- The Texas A&M equestrian team ended its home schedule with a big comeback over rival Oklahoma State in the final discipline in front of more than a thousand onlookers on Senior Day at N.W. ‘Dick’ Freeman Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The Aggies entered the reining competition needing to win five of the six remaining matches to eke out a victory over the Cowgirls after OSU had fought its way to a 10-8 lead. The A&M reiners proved up to the task, winning exactly five of its six match-ups to earn the outright win.
“(The reiners) were just trying to be more focused but yet not overanalyze everything,” A&M head coach Tana Rawson said. “We’ve learned a lot this semester from each other and learned how to work together, like a team should, really well. They put it all together at this show and the entire team got a huge benefit from it at just the right time.”
The Aggie reiners completed an exact reversal of their 5-1 loss at Oklahoma State on Nov. 8 by first winning each of their first four match-ups on Saturday. Junior Genna Fishgold (Scottsdale, Ariz.) finished off the role reversal with a 73.5 to 69.5 victory over OSU’s Jacque Roberts in the final match of the day to secure the win in her competition-deciding ride.
“Obviously, because of the nature of the way our sport is set up, when it does have a close finish there are those times it comes down to the last rider, be it a blessing or curse,” Rawson said. “Genna was extremely mentally prepared and went out and did her job.”
Freshman standout Randi Standley (Madisonville) earned reining MVP honors with a 74.5-73.5 win over Cowgirl Bri Parnell. Sophomore Maggie Gratny (Leavenworth, Kan.) upped her reiner-leading season win total to seven with a 71.5-66.5 win over Leah Kuehn. Junior Tonna Brooks (Newberg, Ore.) and sophomore Maddi Williams (Valley View) both upped their seasonal win totals to five each with wins over Courtney Whitacre (73.5-72) and Molly Tipton (73-72.5), respectively, to help seal the deal for the Aggies in the reining division.
The Aggie horsemanship riders also had a splendid day, taking victories in four of their six matches. Junior co-captain Reneé Dirkse (Rockwall) turned in the highest score of her collegiate career in an MVP-winning 79.5 to 77.5 win over OSU’s Ashley Koch.
The highest western score of the day was turned in by sophomore Caroline Gunn (Greensburg, Ind.) who posted an impressive margin of victory in an 80.5-71.5 win over Cowgirl Sam Davidson. Junior co-captain Sibyl Parsons (Combine) captured her seventh win of the season, tying the horsemanship team-high, with a 76-71.5 win over Suzanne Randolph. Christine Sceets (Baytown) made her Senior Day memorable with a 76.5-75 win over Margaux Tucker.
On the hunter seat side, senior co-captain Katie Henion (Austin) won her team-leading ninth fences match of the season by taking home a high-scoring 85-82 victory over OSU freshman Hannah Beresford. Sophomore Kristi Waldal (Battle Ground, Wash.) squeaked out a 79-78 win over Cowgirl Jaclyn Osterstock to grab her seventh fences win of the year.
Senior Ashlie Soderstrom (Lake Oswego, Ore.) closed out her home career in style with a victory over OSU senior Michelle Woolschlager on the flat, 66-61. Sophomore Brittney Dodson (Amarillo) won a flat-leading eighth win of the season thanks to a 77-69 victory over Sam Collingsworth.
The Aggies honored their eight seniors during the team’s final home show of the 2007-08 season. Those honored were Viviana Cordero (Sunland, Calif.), Katie Henion, Lindsey Lawrence (College Station), Hanna Lindskog (Boerne), Christine Sceets, Erin Sharp (Elgin), Ashlie Soderstrom, and Megan Von Tungeln (Sugar Land).
With the overall win the Aggies raise their record to 9-2, ranking them among the best in the nation. The western team ups its mark to 7-3 while the hunter seat squad drops to 9-2 after falling 8-4 to the Cowgirls on Saturday.
The Aggies will spend the next three weeks preparing for The Classic, a tournament-style match-up featuring each of the four Big 12 Conference schools that sponsor equestrian as a varsity sport. The Aggies will take the top seed into the tournament after posting a 5-1 record against their conference opponents during the regular season.