TEXAS A&M SEASON PREVIEW


TEXAS A&M SEASON PREVIEW
Thursday, September 24, 2015

Entering her 17th year as head coach, Tana McKay looks to add to her total of 11 titles and lead Texas A&M to its third overall National Championship, which will be its first since 2012. She is joined by a pair of second-year coaches, hunter seat coach Caroline Cramer and western coach Jessie Weisinger, who will work to build upon what they started in their inaugural year.

The Aggies will begin their season at number seven in the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) poll. The Aggies will face top-ranked Georgia in Athens to kick off the season before heading to Fresno, California where they will take on Fresno State and New Mexico State.

McKay is optimistic about the tough first stretch of the schedule. "I am really looking forward to getting our season started. The girls have put in a lot of hard work in a short amount of time. This is a tough way to start the season, but I believe our girls are up to the challenge and welcome it."

The Aggies will host six meets this year at the Hildebrand Equine Complex in College Station where they boasted an 8-1 record in 2014-2015. The Aggies' home opener is set for October 29 against reining National Champion South Carolina. They also face SEC foes Auburn and Georgia at home before hosting former Big 12 rivals Baylor, Oklahoma State, and SMU.

Texas A&M returns 13 starters: six on the western squad and seven from hunter seat. Although it loses first team All-American Haley Buchmiller and second-team All-American Laura Sumrall, the team returns key starters such as 2015 MVP leader Marlena Parker, 2015 SEC Freshman of the Year Alex Desiderio, and second team All-American Kaci Fisher. The team is confident that a solid incoming freshman class will make an immediate impact.

There are many riders to keep an eye on this season. Both senior Marlena Parker and sophomore Alex Desiderio were the only riders to boast a winning record in Equitation over Fences in 2014-2015, and Parker was the only rider with a winning record in both Fences and Equitation on the Flat. With two more MVP performances in Fences, Parker can become the school's all-time leader. Desiderio is the reigning SEC Freshman of the year and looks to build on that in 2015-2016 with the experience that she has gained.

On the western side we will see the return of senior Kaci Fisher who led the team in Horsemanship wins in 2014-2015 (10-3-2). Senior Logan Pluhar, who competes in both Horsemanship and Reining, had a total win percentage of .655 between the two events and will look to continue her success in 2015-2016. Texas A&M will debut the new and improved team on Friday, September 18 in their annual Maroon and White scrimmage one week before they head to Bishop, Georgia to take on the Bulldogs in the season opener.

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