April 20, 2012
New Masked Rider Ashley Wenzel poses with previous rider Bradley Skinner at the Transfer of Reins ceremony.
Texas Tech’s new Masked Rider Ashley Wenzel accepted the reins to Midnight Matador on Friday (April 20), becoming the 51st student to don the mascot mask and cape.
In the coming year, the sophomore education major from Friendswood will promote spirit within the university and goodwill for Texas Tech at athletic events and other school and civic functions across Texas.
“As Masked Rider, I will talk to younger children whenever I have the opportunity and encourage them to continue their education by attending college,” Wenzel said. “Of course, promoting Texas Tech University to prospective students is something I will strive for all the time.”
Wenzel began taking western horseback riding lessons from a family friend at the age of 5. Like many young girls, she next asked her parents for a pony; coincidentally, the horse she had been riding every week was for sale, and Brook became her first love.
At 12 she ventured into English riding for a change of pace and competed in that realm for four years.
Her freshman year of high school, Wenzel started competing in rodeos in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, competitive trail and some breakaway roping. During her three years in rodeo she also was a member of the Friendswood FFA Horse Judging Team.
“At 15, most teens are learning to drive,” Wenzel said. “I was learning to hook up and pull the horse trailer. By 16 I was hauling to practices and rodeos by myself.”
Wenzel is the 51st Masked Rider in school history.
In 2008 she traveled to Colorado to compete in the National Little Britches Rodeo Association (NLBRA) and was awarded “Rookie of the Year.” She was All-Around Champion at the Southern Texas Playday Association, first place at Friendswood Equestrian Riding Club and champion at Willowbrook Farms and Pasadena Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Wenzel, the daughter of Gary and Theresa Wenzel, is or has been a member of the American Quarter Horse Association, National Barrel Horse Association, American Appaloosa Association, Greater Houston Hunter Jumper Association, Alvin Youth Livestock Arena Association and Galveston Country Fair and Rodeo Association. She also is involved in the Texas State Teachers Association to be current on issues in teaching and education.
Wenzel brought her horse to college with her and continues to ride, although not competitively. She volunteers at the Tech Therapeutic Riding Center every week. After graduation Wenzel would like to teach high school math.
Bradley Skinner, the 2011-2012 Masked Rider, traveled more than 10,000 miles making appearances at athletic events, rodeos and other functions. He appeared at more than a dozen men’s and women’s basketball games and several Texas Tech baseball games. His favorite memory, being from Colorado, is traveling to Denver for the Denver alumni fundraiser in July where he spoke to alumni about the Masked Rider program. Also taking the horse to the Lonestar Lineman’s Rodeo in Amarillo was special because his dad has always been a lineman.