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NMSU Riders Earn Nationals Berth

LAS CRUCES - Two New Mexico State University western riders are headed to the national championships after stellar performances at the Zone 7 Equestrian Championships at West Texas A&M University on Saturday afternoon.

New Mexico State University animal science graduate student Rachel Knight won first place in alumni horsemanship and alumni reining Saturday at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association's Zone 7 Equestrian Championships at West Texas A&M. (04/07/2004) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

"We're looking forward to nationals," said Deborah Rosencrans, NMSU stock seat coach. "We'll be right up there with the top teams."

Las Cruces native Rachel Knight had one of her best days of the season. The NMSU animal science graduate student took first place in alumni horsemanship and alumni reining. Sophomore Elizabeth Knight of Las Cruces grabbed a qualifying spot in the intermediate horsemanship division with a runner-up finish.

"This contest was excellent seasoning for our beginning riders," Rosencrans said. "They'll be much better mentally as they move up to the next level of competition."

Region 2 champion Oklahoma State continued a strong season by winning the overall western zone title by scoring 36 points, followed by Texas A&M University with 27, Colorado State University with 26. Region 1 champion NMSU was fourth with 25.

NMSU's early season win of the regional title means that six Aggie riders will also be vying for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association's National Championship Team title May 6-9 at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The team includes Neal Stolz of Albuquerque in beginning horsemanship, Tessa Cathey of Las Cruces in intermediate horsemanship, Michelle Ratcliff of Lawrence, Kan. in novice horsemanship, Elizabeth Cecil of Raton in advanced horsemanship, Bryn Wells of Las Cruces in open horsemanship, and Kelli Younker of Santa Fe in open reining.

The Aggies won national titles in western equitation in 1995 and 1998 and a reserve championship in 1997. The IHSA Zone 7 includes collegiate equestrian teams from New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana.

IHSA Zone 7 Western Show:

Team Results:
1. Oklahoma State 36
2. Texas A&M 27
3. Colorado State 26
4. New Mexico State 25

Individual Reining:
3. Kelli Younker
5. Bryn Wells

Alumni Reining:
1. Rachel Knight
3. Lindsey Hansen

Team Reining:
3. Kelli Younker

Individual Novice Horsemanship:
3. Elizabeth Cecil

Individual Open Horsemanship:
4. Bryn Wells

Team Beginner Horsemanship:
4. Neal Stolz

Team Intermediate Horsemanship:
4. Tessa Cathey

Individual Beginner Horsemanship:
3. Jennifer Travis
5. Tessa Cathey

Team Advanced Horsemanship:
3. Elizabeth Cecil

Individual Intermediate Horsemanship:
2. Elizabeth Knight

Team Novice Horsemanship:
3. Michelle Ratcliff

Alumni Horsemanship:
1. Rachel Knight
3. Lindsey Hansen

Team Open Horsemanship:
1. Bryn Wells