The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Equestrian captures National Title in Waco

Texas+A%26amp%3BM+2017+NCEA+National+Champions+on+Saturday%2C+April+15%2C+2017+in+Waco%2C+Tex.+Anthony+Hall%2FAuburn+Athletics
Photo by Anthony G Hall

Texas A&M 2017 NCEA National Champions on Saturday, April 15, 2017 in Waco, Tex. Anthony Hall/Auburn Athletics

Texas A&M (13-5) secured their first NCEA Championship title since joining the SEC in 2012 after defeating No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs, 11-5, in Waco, Texas. The Aggies faced a rocky season full of twists and turns, concluding with an ending that Hollywood couldn’t have written any better.
After suffering two consecutive losses near the end of their regular season and scraping together a consolation victory in the SEC Championship, A&M pulled off a dominating four game performance in Waco to claim their 12th NCEA title in program history.
A&M head coach Tana McKay said the adversity the team faced throughout the season prepared them to perform under immense pressure. According to McKay, the masterful outing by her riders this weekend was one of the best she’s ever seen in her 17 years as the head of the program.
“To ride as well as they did and get the shutouts that we did, in all my years I haven’t been involved in a championship quite like this,” McKay said. “We’ve had our ups and downs for sure, but they just got to work and have really been spending a lot of time and energy. A lot of it came down today with just being mentally tough and these girls were just so solid across the board, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
A&M  kicked off Saturday with their first complete shutout since 2015 over No. 9 TCU, 16-0, in the semifinals. Senior Sarah McEntire set the tone with a narrow 141.5 – 141 victory over TCU’s Brook Boyle. Sophomore Haley Franc, junior Madison Bohman and senior Sarah Kate Grider each followed suit to conclude a sweep in the Reining event.
From then the Aggies never looked back and continued to steamroll through their competition. The perfect meet was capped with sophomore Rebekah Chenelle and junior Alex Desiderio tallying their second victories of the day. This set up the Aggies with a huge amount of momentum that they carried into their afternoon meet against the No. 2 Bulldogs.
The Aggies were already 1-1 against Georgia (13-4) this season and neither match had gone uncontested. A&M took an early lead by Desiderio, senior Anna Rea, and Most Outstanding Player Chenelle, each notching their respective points in the Equitation on the Flat competition.
With a 3-1 lead going into Horsemanship, A&M supported junior Avery Ellis in her MOP efforts, defeating Graysen Stroud of Georgia, 155-150.5, and tallying the Aggies’ first score of the division. Senior Kaci Fisher and sophomore Sarah Orsak saddled up and defeated Bulldogs’ Sammie Johnson and Payton Anderson, respectively, increasing the Aggies’ lead to 6-2.
McEntire kicked off the second half off competition in Reining where she took home another MOP with a narrow 138.5-138 topping of Kyndall Harper. Bohman and sophomore Haley Franc found their own scores to cap the division and put the Aggies in an unreachable 9-3 lead.
“To have the caliber of the athletes that were here at this championship, the reality is it’s the best athletes that are riding for these schools, so for [the MOPs] to be among that company and for the judges to realize that they’re MOP status, is just great,” McKay said.
The final competition saw the two squads tie 2-2. Junior Rachel Hake and senior Haley Webster tallied the only A&M points to bring the history-making day to an end.
This concludes the 2016-2017 season and marks Texas A&M’s 12th national title, the first since 2012 and the third under head coach Tana McKay.

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