A&M Hunter Riders Shine in New Mexico State Victory

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LAS CRUCES, N.M.-- The third-ranked Texas A&M equestrian team cruised past New Mexico State, 15-5, at the NMSU Equestrian Center on Friday.

The Texas Aggie hunter seat squad dominated the New Mexico State Aggie hunter group, 9-1, while the western group used a strong day from its reiners to earn a 6-4 win.

“I’m very proud of how the hunter seat team has handled themselves the past few months,” A&M hunter seat head coach Linzy Woolf said. “We had a little bit of a rough start to the semester, but these ladies have maintained their composure and focus, and steadily made the improvements in and out of the ring that were necessary to help them get back on top. We still have the two biggest competitions of the year facing us, and I feel like we are just starting to hit our stride.”

A&M’s flat riders turned in arguably the best flat show in its varsity history, sweeping New Mexico State, 5-0. All five flat riders earned a score of 78 or better, including two at 84 or better.

Junior Christina Heine (Toledo, Ohio) was the highest scorer of the day for A&M in any discipline, beating flat MVP Brianna Raab, 86-77. Senior Tegan Zealy (Tampa, Fla.) earned her team-leading seventh flat win of the year thanks to an 80-67 victory over Meg Keeley.

freshman Megan Webb (Burlington, W.V.) hit the 80-point mark for the fifth-straight flat match in earning an 84-83 win over Jennifer Friend. Junior Brittney Dodson (Amarillo) earned her sixth win of the year thanks to a 79-77 victory over Katie Helmuth while senior Christina Matz (McKinney) rode to a 78-75 victory over Marissa Bernal.

The Texas Aggie fence riders were nearly as perfect as their flat counterparts, claiming a 4-1 win. Freshman Maggie Earle (Fallbrook, Calif.) improved to an impressive 6-1-1 on the season and was the top A&M scorer over fences after beating fences MVP Briana Raab, 78-68.

Junior Kristi Waldal (Battle Ground, Wash.) earned a team-best seventh fences win of the season following a 76-74 triumph over Beth Robinson. Senior Erin Ivy (Cypress) evened her seasonal record to 5-5 with a 74-72 win over Meg Keeley. Sophomore Brooke Coleman (Houston) earned her second road victory of the season thanks to a 77-69 decision over Amy Lang.

Tied 4-4 in the western competition, A&M won the final two reining rides of the day to push past their New Mexico Aggie counterparts. Junior Maggie Gratny (Leavenworth, Kan.) and senior Genna Fishgold (Scottsdale, Ariz.) closed the door on New Mexico State with 73-71 and 72-71 wins over Kate Chesley and Ashley Dietz, respectively.

Sophomore Tara Christiansen (Snohomish, Wash.) completed a perfect 10-0 regular season with her third MVP performance of the 2008-09 campaign after beating Rachel Krause, 73-68.5. Senior Amanda Ryan (Ramona, Calif.) won the final regular season ride of her collegiate career, 69-68.5, over Breanne Bertrand.

“The reiners had some challenging rides and dealt with a little adversity extremely well today,” A&M head coach Tana McKay said. “I’m impressed with the way they responded mentally and the preparation they put in ahead of time to show on the road.”

In horsemanship, sophomore Randi Standley (Madisonville) won her third straight match following a 75-72.5 win over Codi Binkerd. Senior Sibyl Parsons (Combine) evened her season record to 5-5 with a 74.5-72 horsemanship win over Jo Parker.

The overall team victory improves A&M to 8-3 on the season. The western group’s dramatic win raises their record to a nation-leading 9-1 while the hunter group jumps to 8-3.

The Aggies will spend the next two weeks preparing for the first-ever Big 12 Championship in equestrian. A&M will enter the competition as the No. 2 seed in Stillwater, Okla., on Mar. 27-28.

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