Las Cruces, NM — The No. 4 ranked New Mexico State equestrian team opened the spring season Saturday afternoon at the NM State Equestrian Center against No. 1 South Carolina. In a close competition pitting two of the country’s top programs against each other, the Aggies fell 12-8 to the Lady Gamecocks.
The Aggies earned two Most Valuable Player awards on the day, while South Carolina picked up the other two.
“We started the day off with the Hunter Seat events and we really rode hard and competed well,” head coach Robin Morris-Walters said. “Going into the final event on the Western side we were only down one point but we had a few tough breaks that in the end we couldn’t overcome. Despite the loss I really think we rode well today. I think we came out ready to compete and we proved that we can compete with anyone in the country. This competition will help us going forward for the rest of the season.”
The day started in the Hunter Seat arena, with NM State winning the Equitation on the Flat, 3-2. Hannah Swarthout was crowned MVP with an 84-76 win over Samantha Krause of USC. The Aggies’ Julie Frey defeated Alexa Anthony, 77-69, while Amber Tassel beat Samantha Smith of South Carolina, 74-40, earning the winning points.
The Equitation over Fences event saw the Aggies earn just one point, falling 4-1. NM State’s Elizabeth Solomon defeated Sydney Smith in a head-to-head matchup, 79-75.
After the Hunter Seat competition, the Aggies were down 6-4 in overall score.
NM State bounced back in the Reining event, winning 3-2 overall. Helping the Aggies pull back within one point was Clarissa Edgerton, who defeated South Carolina’s Smanatha Chiodo, 73.5-69.5. Rianna Storey also earned a point for the Aggies in Reining with a 71.5-71 win over Katie Kopf. Courtney Cruse rounded out the Aggie competitor by beating Kelsey Urban, 70.5-69.
Following the Reining event, NM State was down 8-7 with just the Horsemanship remaining.
In the Horsemanship competition, NM State rode well but could only secure one point. Tara Wilson earned that point for the Aggies by beating Johnna Letchworth, 70-0. With the win, Wilson also earned MVP honors.
The Aggies will be back in action on Feb. 15 when they host SMU at the NM State Equestrian Center. Junior Brynn Larson will join seven other collegiate equestrian reining competitors Feb. 2 at the Arizona Sun Circuit Shootout, hosted by the Arizona Quarter Horse Association in Scottsdale, Arizona.