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Knight Wins the Day at IHSA National Championship

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Strong rides and first-class concentration spurred an NMSU equestrian team member to individual national honors at the 2004 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships at Tennessee Miller Coliseum on Sunday.



New Mexico State University animal science graduate student Rachel Knight won first place in alumni horsemanship and alumni reining Sunday at the 2004 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships at Middle Tennessee State University. (05/11/2004) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

NMSU animal science graduate student Rachel Knight of Las Cruces took top finishes in alumni horsemanship and alumni reining during the three-day competition at Middle Tennessee State University.

"We're thrilled," said Deborah Rosencrans, NMSU stock seat coach. "Rachel rode extremely well. She is highly motivated, and does what it takes to win both in competition and in practice." NMSU has had four previous national championships in the alumni division.

During the season, Knight turned in stellar performances, taking first place in alumni horsemanship and alumni reining at the Zone 7 Equestrian Championships at West Texas A&M, and the IHSA regional finals at Colorado State.

NMSU's western team finished in 10th place overall in the national championship race. Texas A&M won its third-straight western national championship title with 28 points, while Fresno State was second with 24. Oklahoma State was third with 21 points.

"While we had hoped to finish higher, I'm pleased with our efforts," Rosencrans said. "We have a really young team with four of the six being freshmen. Out of more than 300 teams nationwide, only 16 qualified for nationals. To rank tenth in the nation with such a young team is a testament to their abilities."

During the finals, freshman Elizabeth Cecil, a finance major from Raton, placed fifth in the advanced horsemanship team competition. Other Aggie riders competing on the national stage were senior Neal Stolz, a history major from Albuquerque, sophomore Tessa Cathey of Las Cruces, freshman Michelle Ratcliff of Lawrence, Kan., freshman Kelli Younker of Santa Fe and freshman Bryn Wells of Las Cruces.

Rosencrans said that in a separate horse judging competition at nationals, NMSU's two, five-member teams finished fourth and fifth, with Wells placing as sixth high individual.

The Aggies won national titles in western equitation in 1995 and 1998 and a reserve championship in 1997.