aggie equestrian

Texas A&M polo coach Mike McCleary is flanked by his national championship teams. Men’s team members are: (from left) Fritz Felhaber, Mariano Silva, Colton Valentine and Christian Aycinena. Aggie women’s team members are: (from left) Marissa Wells, Alexandra “Ally” Vaughn and Hannah Reynolds. Congratulating McCleary is United States Polo Association chairman David Cummings.

The Texas A&M polo teams swept the United States Polo Association’s National Intercollegiate Championships on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The second-seeded Aggie men edged top-seeded Virginia 21-19, while the women rolled to a 20-9 victory over Virginia. The men advanced with a 15-14 victory over Cornell in the semifinals, while the women defeated Cal Poly 20-3.

Christian Aycinena, Fritz Felhaber, Mariano Silva and Colton Valentine rode for A&M’s men’s team, while A&M’s women’s team included Hannah Reynolds, Alexandra Vaughn and Marissa Wells.

Wells led A&M’s women in the title match, helping A&M to a 10-6 lead after three chukkers (periods). The Aggies increased their lead to 14-6 with goals by Wells and Vaughn.

Wells and Reynolds were named to the National All-Stars along with Virginia’s Meghan Milligan and Cornell’s Shariah Harris.

While the women had control of their game throughout, the men’s title was in doubt until the final minutes. A&M tied it at 18 on a goal by Felhaber in the sixth and final chukker — a period is 7.5 minutes — with only minutes remaining. Felhaber then added two penalty conversions.

“We’ve played in a lot of close games this year against University of Kentucky, University of North Texas and Cornell yesterday,” Valentine said on the USPA website. “We knew we could make this game turn in our favor.”

The Virginia men, who were unbeaten for the season and coming off a 23-6 victory over North Texas, scored the game’s first five goals and increased their lead to 10-3 in the third chukker before A&M closed to within 11-9. It was a dogfight the rest of the way.

“After competing here a few weeks ago and losing, we’ve consistently been thinking about this game,” Silva said. “We’ve been working out, practicing and playing all while imagining ourselves winning. Our desire to win has been enormous.”

Aycinena and Silva were named Men’s National All-Stars along with Virginia’s Nacchi Viana and Cornell’s Lorenzo Masias.

It was the second straight titles for Aycinena, Silva, Vaughn and Wells as A&M also swept both national titles last year. The only other school to sweep the titles in back-to-back years is California-Davis, which did it from 1981-83.

The Aggie men won their 11th title (1996, ’97, ’98, 2000, ’01, ’07, ’08, ’10, ’16, ’18, ’19). The Aggie women won their fourth title (1994, ’95, 2018, ’19).

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