COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas A&M equestrian team signed nine riders to a letter-of-intent during the most recent signing period, A&M head coach Tana McKay announced on Wednesday.
The Aggies will add the following riders for the 2009-10 season: Courtney Kile (Garrison), Alyssa Martin (Austin), Carey Nowacek (San Antonio), Kori Pickett (Mount Airy, Md.), Amanda Pitton (Las Vegas, Nev.), CiCi Riddle (Atlanta, Ga.), Kelsi Shevlin (Keller), Erin Smith (Mission), and Emily Williams (Woodbine, Md.).
Courtney Kile will be a 2009 graduate of Garrison High School in Garrison, Texas. Kile is a 2007 and 2008 American Youth Quarter Horse Association (AQHYA) world qualifier, earning a ninth place finish this year in reining. Kile was the Southwest Reining Horse Association (SWRHA) Futurity 14-18 Champion in both 2005 and 2006 as well as the 2005 and 2008 National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) 14-18 Champion. She was also the 2005 NRBC High Scoring Youth, 2006 and 2007 SWRHA Year-End Champion in addition to being the 2007 Central Affiliate Finals Champion and finishing seventh at the North American Affiliate Championship that same year. Courtney is the daughter of Brian and Becky Kile.
“We are looking forward to Courtney becoming an Aggie,” McKay says. “She has great experience and talent that I know will add to our team. She has a great attitude, a wonderful family and is a perfect addition to our program.”
Alyssa Martin will be a 2009 graduate of Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas. Martin has been successful showing on the Texas Hunter/Jumper Association (THJA) circuit in recent years. She was named the children’s hunter champion and children’s equitation champion in the THJA in 2006 as well as being named the Zone 7 children’s hunter reserve champion that same year. She is currently showing Level 2 and 3 jumpers, junior equitation, as well as the 3’6” medal classes at A and AA rated shows in Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. Alyssa is the daughter of Danny and Michelle Martin. Her trainers are Kelly Lorek and Bay Henion.
“Alyssa is having a very successful career as a junior rider,” A&M hunter seat coach Linzy Woolf says. “She has grown up with a strong love for Texas A&M and has worked hard to make the dream of attending Aggieland and competing on the equestrian team a reality.”
Carey Nowacek is a 2008 graduate of Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio, Texas. Nowacek finished in the top 10 at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress in 15-18 Western Horsemanship this fall after being named the reserve champion in 15-18 Western Riding a year ago. She was a member of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Honor Roll in 2006 and 2007 and is a multiple-time AQHYA youth champion and has earned multiple Superior Event awards. Carey is the daughter of David and Karen Nowacek. Her trainer is Brad Jewett.
“Carey was a highly sought after recruit this season and I am honored that she chose Texas A&M University,” A&M horsemanship coach Beth Bass says. “Carey is such an elegant rider and she has the ability to ride multiple types of horses. This, along with her extensive youth show career, lends me to believe that she will have an immediate impact on the horsemanship portion of the team next year.”
Kori Pickett will be a 2009 graduate of Glenelg High School in Mount Airy, Md. Pickett has earned top ribbons at the Devon, Harrisburg, and Washington International Horse Shows in junior hunters, pony hunters, and children’s jumpers. This year she claimed second place at the Low Junior Amateur/Owner Jumper Classic in Jacksonville, Fla. Pickett’s accolades date back as far as 2002 when she earned first place in Younger Small Junior Hunter Stake at the Devon Horse Show. Pickett has been successful in the classroom as well as she is a member of the National Honor Society, having made the honor roll in every quarter of her high school career. Kori is the daughter of Brian and Laura Pickett. Her trainers are Patty Foster and Mary Lisa Leffler.
“Kori will have a lot to offer to our team from her experience of riding many different horses and a broad background of riding hunters, equitation and jumpers,” Woolf says. “That kind of experience is invaluable in the NCAA level of this sport.”
Amanda Pitton will be a 2009 graduate of Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas, Nev. Pitton is the 2008 Year-End Reserve Champion for the Equitation 15-17 Division in the Pacific Coast Horse Show Association (PCHSA). She also won the L.A. Junior Medal that qualified her for the 2008 U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) Medal Finals. Pitton was also named reserve champion in Equitation 16-17 at the National Preview Horse Show at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in 2008. Amanda is the daughter of Michael Burton and Angel Pitton, who is her trainer. Pitton was formerly trained by Jim Hagman.
“Amanda brings a strong and successful background of riding a wide variety of horses,” Woolf says. “She will bring a great flair to our program with her west coast style of riding and great enthusiasm for the sport of equestrian. I believe she will make a great impact on the success of our team.”
Christine (CiCi) Riddle will be a 2009 graduate of Lovett High School in Atlanta, Ga. Riddle qualified for and competed in the USEF East Coast Show Jumping Talent Search this year, one year after doing the same in the USEF Pessoa Medal Equitation Finals. She also earned first place in the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search at the Atlanta Fall Classic in 2007. Riddle was named the Year-End Reserve Champion in Large Junior Hunter in the Georgia Hunter Jumper Association in 2006. Cici is the daughter of Ray and Kelley Riddle. She is trained by Karen Kerby.
“We are extremely excited to have CiCi become a member of our team and Aggie family,” Woolf says. “CiCi bleeds maroon and white. I believe her enthusiasm and love for Texas A&M will intensify her talent and contributions to the team. She comes to us from Georgia where the level of competition in the hunters and equitation is very high. Her experience in the competition ring should have an immediate impact on the success of our team.”
Kelsi Shevlin will be a 2009 graduate of Texas Tech High School. Shevlin, who moved from Georgia to Texas this past year, will be one of the few A&M riders having lettered in equestrian in high school. Shevlin lettered for the Northview High School team in Duluth, Ga., for three years, serving as co-captain as a sophomore and captain as a junior. Before heading to Texas, Shevlin competed in extensively in Georgia this year, earning multiple blue ribbons in the Atlanta Saddlery Equitation Challenge. She also earned first place in the North American League Children’s Equitation division at the Atlanta Summer Classic. Shevlin earned reserve champion honors in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association Zone 4 Championship leading rider standings as well as first place at the show in Varsity Open Individual Flat. Kelsi is the daughter of Jim and Ann Shevlin. She is trained by Jim and Joan Henson.
“Kelsi is a Georgia transplant, having moved to Texas this past year,” Woolf says. “We are glad to call her a Texan and an Aggie! She is bringing wonderful experience of competing in a very strong area of horse show competition, as well as having a successful career in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, where she has already experienced the team aspects of horse showing. The transition from individual competition to team competition can be a tough transition for many equestrian athletes to make, but she already has a great team attitude. She is going to be a very valuable team member.”
Erin Smith will be a 2009 graduate of Sharyland High School in Mission, Texas. Smith was the 2008 Children’s Hunter Classic Champion at the Alamo Mayfest Hunter/Jumper Show in San Antonio in addition to earning top ribbons in Older Children’s Hunter at HITS 2008 Sundance Welcome in Tucson, Ariz. She also earned third place in Children’s Hunter Classic at the Autumn Classic Horse Show. Last year, Smith was named Year-End Reserve Champion in Open Hunter for the South Texas Hunter/Jumper Association. Erin is the daughter of Roland and Melissa Smith. Her trainer is Michael Hall.
“Erin is going to be a great addition to our team in many ways,” Woolf says. “She is from an area of Texas that does not have much exposure to hunter seat showing and riding, but has been dedicated enough to make a great deal of progress in her riding and showing in a small amount of time. She has a great love and passion for Texas A&M, and I’m sure she will continue to experience success in her riding due to her immense dedication to this sport.”
Emily Williams will be a 2009 graduate of Notre Dame Preparatory School. The Woodbine, Md., native qualified for the USEF Pessoa Medal and the ASPCA Maclay Regionals in both 2007 and 2008 in addition to qualifying for the Zone 3 Tad Coffin Equitation Finals this year. Williams competed at the USA National Hunter Pony Championships in Lexington, Ky., back in 2002 as well. Emily is the daughter of Dale and Kim Williams. Mom, Kim, is also her trainer.
“Emily is going to be a great asset to our team,” Woolf says. “She has a well-rounded background from riding many different sale horses from her mother’s barn, which will help her excel at the collegiate level. Emily also follows in the footsteps of current A&M rider and co-captain, Lindsay Smith, who rode and trained with Emily’s mother. We are thrilled to have another great rider coming from Kim Williams’ barn.”
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