New Masked Rider Takes Reins during Transfer

Texas Tech University announced Friday (April 18) that Ashley Hartzog accepted the reins to Midnight Matador, becoming the 2008-2009 Masked Rider.

Written by Cory Chandler

Texas Tech University announced Friday (April 18) that Ashley Hartzog accepted the reins to Midnight Matador, becoming the 2008-2009 Masked Rider.

In donning the rider’s mask, Hartzog, a senior animal science and Spanish major from Farwell, fulfills an ambition that took seed when she first saw the iconic mascot at a Red Raider football game when she was five years old.

"It’s still hard to believe that I was selected to be the Masked Rider," she said. "Every time I see a Masked Rider logo or image on campus I get chills thinking that I get to be a part of that tradition."

As Masked Rider, Hartzog will make hundreds of appearances and put thousands of miles on the Masked Rider’s pickup over the next year, crisscrossing the Southwest to promote Texas Tech spirit and goodwill at athletic events, parades, rodeos and other functions.

Hartzog has ridden, trained and shown horses everywhere from ranches to rodeos for more than 16 years, and in 2003 was president of the Llano Estacado Horse Association. She has competed on Texas Tech’s Ranch Horse, Horse Judging and Equestrian teams and recently completed an internship with seedstock giant Leachman Cattle of Colorado.

Yet the experience that has perhaps readied her most to take up Midnight Matador’s reins is her nearly four years on the Masked Rider Field Safety Team, which brought her in close contact with former riders during and between appearances.

Most recently, she helped Kevin Burns, the 2007-2008 Masked Rider, who traveled more than 12,000 miles to more than 150 appearances during his stint as mascot.

Burns attended nine football games, including a historic return to the Gator Bowl, where in 1954 the Masked Rider made his first official appearance against what is now Auburn University. Kevin and Midnight Matador led the Red Raiders into the Jan. 1 Konica Minolta Gator Bowl – a come-from-behind thriller against the Virginia Cavaliers.

CONTACT: Gay Trammel-Witt, Masked Rider publicist, Center for Campus Life, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-5433, gaytrammel.witt@ttu.edu.