Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Coming off a season in which TCU climbed as high as No. 2 in the national rankings during the course of the year, optimism is high at Turning Point Ranch this fall as the Horned Frogs return several key components and a talented crop of newcomers poised to claim the program's first conference and outright national championship.

In all, the Frogs' lineup is littered with NCEA All-America honorees, including Nicole Diamantis, Erin Gillette, Kari Hancock, Shelby St. Hilaire, Megan McMullen and Chantz Stewart.

After boasting several key victories last season, the Hunt Seat program will lean heavily on Hancock and Diamantis during the early portion of its schedule. Hancock wrapped-up the 2014-15 campaign garnering eight victories and five MOP honors en route to NCEA First-Team All-American and all-conference honors. Diamantis was also stellar as she recorded three MOP's on the year and 13 overall victories between Equitation on the Flat and Equitation over Fences, respectively. Look for junior Molly Peddicord and sophomore Jayme Omand to also have a huge impact on TCU's success in both disciplines after putting together some solid performances last season.

On the Western side, the Purple and White will have a new face leading them this season with the addition of Western Head Coach Melissa Dukes. The cupboard is not void of talent though as Dukes will have the luxury of having several all-conference honorees from the last two seasons to help a talented crop of newcomers get their feet wet.

Leading the way for TCU this season will once again be Stewart who should push for First-Team All-America accolades in her final season in a Horned Frog uniform after being named the Big 12 Reining Rider of the Year a year ago. The senior is coming off a year in which she captured eight wins in Reining, including a 6-0 mark in conference play. Not to be outdone, McMullen was just as dominate on the other side of the discipline as she captured Second-Team All-America and all-league honors after going 9-2-1 in Horsemanship with three MOP awards.

Look for two proven seniors in St. Hilaire and Gillette to also play major factors this season in the Horned Frog lineup. St. Hilaire posted seven wins last season in Reining and went 2-1 in post-season play. Gillette had some success a year ago with two MOP's in Horsemanship and has been named an All-American during her time in Fort Worth.

Junior Brooke Boyle is also back after posting some solid wins throughout the 2014-15 campaign and capturing Academic All-Big 12 honors. Look for several newcomers to grace the lineup, including freshmen Meloney Morris and Jenna Jacobs, who was recently crowned a World Champion at the 2015 AQHA Youth World Show.

TCU opens its 2015-16 season at SMU on Thursday, Sept. 24. The Frogs' home opener in Springtown is set for Thursday, Oct. 8 versus New Mexico State.

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