Wildcats Host No. 1 UGA on Senior Day

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The sixth-ranked K-State equestrian team will wrap up its 2009-10 home slate as it hosts No. 1 Georgia for Senior Day at 9 a.m. Sunday at Fox Creek Farm.


The Wildcats (4-5) enter Sunday’s competition trying to halt a three-show skid, as they have dropped consecutive road matchups with Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Baylor to start out the spring season. On the year the Wildcats are 2-2 at Fox Creek Farms, with wins coming over No. 8 TCU and the then-second-ranked Baylor Bears.


Georgia (9-1) enters the competition riding a wave of nine straight victories to its No. 1 national ranking. After losing their season-opener to TCU, the Bulldogs have put together an impressive list of victories including wins over No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 4 South Carolina.


"Sunday will be a big competition for everyone,” said head coach Casie Lisabeth. “Not only will we close out the 09-10 home season as a squad, but we mark the end of the home stretch for 22 seniors who have been huge contributors to our program. Georgia has an outstanding program, and we know we need to be extremely confident and prepared going into this competition.”


The show will get underway in the Equitation over Fences discipline, where K-State is led on the year by senior Katie Mellon who has accumulated a 4-2 record. Fellow senior Bridget Doyle and junior Jen Rawle also bring experience to the show arena, tallying 17 combined wins over their careers. The Wildcats will look towards a pair of promising freshmen in Kristen Rheinlander and Kali Yates to complete the Fences lineup, as they have both notched one win on the season.


In Equitation on the Flat, senior Ashley Collett will look to improve to 2-0 after winning her first matchup of the season last weekend against Texas A&M. Fellow senior Katie Mellon has ridden to a 2-1 record on the year in the discipline, while junior Christina Costello is looking for her fourth win on Sunday. Rounding out the Flat for K-State are two freshmen in Larisa Laffey and Kali Yates that have combined for four wins on their freshman campaigns.


On the Western side of the competition, the Wildcats will look to build upon the momentum gained in their last outing when they pummeled Baylor, 8-1. The veteran-heavy Horsemanship squad will consist of four seniors including team captains Alyssa Freeman, 6-2-1 with one MVP on the season, and Laura Browne, 6-3 with two MVPs. Fellow seniors Courtney Watters and Mikaela Sundgren have combined for 11 wins and one MVP on the season. Freshman Hannah Ribera will look to pick up the second win of her career after splitting her first two matchups for a 1-1 record this spring.


K-State will round out the show in the Reining arena where three seniors will get the opportunity to show for the last time in front of a home crowd. Senior Tara Hallan has been on fire lately, going 3-0 with two MVPs to start out the spring season. Morgan Campbell has had a strong senior campaign, riding to a 5-3-1 record, while fellow senior Kaylee Stout has notched four wins on the year. Junior Alecia Zimbelman has also started the spring season undefeated, going 3-0, while freshman Sam Etsell will look to pick up the fourth win of her career.


The Wildcats will also compete in the exhibition arena, with seven riders getting a chance to showcase their skills. On the Western side, three seniors will get one last chance to ride at home, with Caley Coffey and Alise Dykstra competing in Horsemanship and Dani Pettera competing in Reining. In the Hunter Seat, junior Soffia Farrall da Druz and freshman Melanie Hinzpeter will ride Over Fences, while Junior Natasha Vincent and sophomore Stephanie Patterson will round out the competition on the flat.


Following Sunday’s show, there will be a special recognition ceremony for all of the senior riders. In all, 22 seniors will be honored for their tremendous accomplishments and dedication to the program.


Competition is set to begin at 9 a.m. on Sunday and is free and open to the public. Results will be posted on kstatesports.com as they become available.