BROOKINGS, S.D. - The No. 1 Texas A&M equestrian team got off to a strong start for the 2012-13 season with a 15-5 win in the opener at South Dakota State on Saturday.
"This was a great way to start the season," head coach Tana McKay said. "Our riders worked hard and never gave up and they were rewarded for it. South Dakota State was a challenging opponent and I think that competing against them will make us stronger as we start SEC competition next weekend. I'm really proud of our girls."
The Aggies swept the fences competition, 5-0, and downed the Jackrabbits, 4-1 in horsemanship for an early lead, as the events were held at the same time. Shelby Lawson, Kori Pickett, Kat Barkema, Emily Williams and Leah Chenelle each outscored their opponents by nine points or more in the strong over fences showing. Barkema took her second-ever MVP in that discipline.
In horsemanship, the Aggies took an early 3-0 jump on the Jackrabbits with wins by Amanda Brightwell, Molli Jacobs and Cassie Mantor, before Laura Brainard dropped a 69-66.5 decision to SDSU's Kelsey Champagne. A Carey Nowacek victory sealed the deal, however, and horsemanship took an easy 4-1 win. Jacobs earned her career first MVP award with the ride.
With A&M striding to a 9-1 lead after fences and horsemanship, equitation on the flat and reining got underway simultaneously. Each discipline ended with a 3-2 A&M victory after close competitions.
Paige Russell secured a three-point victory over SDSU's Santana Wright on the flat before Kelsi Shevlin fell to flat MVP Lauren Kerr, 78-76. Emily Williams rode to a 10-point win as the Aggies ended the first round of flat ahead 2-1.
South Dakota State tied things up on the flat, 2-2, when Jackrabbit rider Megan Violand defeated Haley Buchmiller, 66-58, but A&M's Ellie Wilkins eked out a 69-68 win over Megan Shiffman and the Aggies secured a 3-2 win on the flat.
On the reining side, Emma Myers took a 70.5-67 win and was followed by Lindsey Bernbaum and Laura Sumrall who each came out of their rides with victories. South Dakota State took the final two rides, over Aggies Ashley Skold and Becca Murray, but the damage had already been done and A&M swept the four disciplines after a 3-2 reining win.
The win was the Aggies' seventh in-a-row in season openers, dating back to the start of the varsity equestrian format in the fall of 2006. A&M now leads SDSU all-time, 2-0.
The Texas A&M equestrian team continues the three-show road slate with a competition at No. 1 Georgia next Sunday, Sept. 30. The matchup will be the Aggies' Southeastern Conference (SEC) debut, after joining the league in July. To learn more about Aggie equestrian, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieEquestrian on Twitter.
TEXAS A&M 15, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 5
DeHaan Equestrian Center - Brookings, S.D.
Records: A&M (1-0), SDSU (0-1)
HUNTER SEAT: A&M 8, SDSU 2
Equitation over Fences: A&M 5, SDSU 0
Shelby Lawson, A&M def. Megan Violand, SDSU, 82-64
Kori Pickett, A&M def. Lauren Kerr, SDSU, 77-60
Kat Barkema (MVP), A&M def. Marielle Golden, SDSU, 85-76
Emily Williams, A&M def. Santana Wright, SDSU, 80-58
Leah Chenelle, A&M def. Jordan Goodall, SDSU, 80-65
Equitation on the Flat: A&M 3, SDSU 2
Paige Russel, A&M def. Santana Wright, SDSU, 66-63
Lauren Kerr (MVP), SDSU def. Kelsi Shevlin, A&M, 78-76
Emily Williams, A&M def. Jordan Goodall, SDSU, 65-55
Megan Violand, SDSU def. Haley Buchmiller, A&M, 66-58
Ellie Wilkins, A&M def. Megan Shiffman, SDUSU, 69-68
WESTERN: A&M 7, SDSU 3
Horsemanship: A&M 4, SDSU 1
Molli Jacobs (MVP), A&M def. Lexus Hoffman, SDSU, 73-72.5
Amanda Brightwell, A&M def. Hillery Baysinger, SDSU, 70-66
Cassie Mantor, A&M def. Danielle Baker, SDSU, 72-67.5
Kelsey Champagne, SDSU def. Laura Brainard, A&M, 69-66.5
Carey Nowacek, A&M def. Hannah Stone, SDSU, 71.5-70
Reining: A&M 3, SDSU 2
Emma Myers, A&M def. Jessie Miller, SDSU, 70.5-67
Lindsey Bernbaum, A&M def. Danielle Baker, SDSU, 69-68
Laura Sumrall, A&M def. Raivenne Scott, SDSU, 68-5-66.5
Jana Basler, SDSU def. Ashley Skold, A&M, 68-66
Laura Dunlavy (MVP), SDSU def. Becca Murray, A&M, 71.5-62.5