Wildcat Equestrian Set for NCEA Nationals

Jesse Johnson

April 9, 2012

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The eighth-ranked Kansas State equestrian team will conclude the 2011-12 season, as the Wildcats travel to Waco, Texas, to compete in the 2012 National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) National Championship, Thursday through Saturday, April 12-14, at the Extraco Events Center near the campus of Baylor University.

The Wildcat Western squad (6-3-5), who is coming off back-to-back Reserve National Champion honors at the National Championships, is seeded sixth and is set to face 11th-seeded South Dakota State, on Thursday at 10:40 a.m., for Reining and 1 p.m., for Horsemanship.

The winner of that match will advance to take on third-seeded Georgia on Friday. K-State last faced the Bulldogs on October 22, with Georgia and K-State tying at 5-5 in the Western arena.

Junior Sam Etsell will make her second straight appearance at  the NCEA National Championships. Etsell, who was named Most Outstanding Performer in Reining at the 2012 Big 12 Championships, will lead the Reining squad into action this weekend. The Arlington, Wash., native was named a unanimous selection to the 2012 All-Big 12 Reining team, as she has amassed nine wins on the year and is currently riding a three-match winning streak.

Like Etsell, sophomore Emily Stockford was named an honorable mention All-American selection by the NCEA. The Cave Creek, Ariz., product has tallied eight wins on the year and will be riding in her first NCEA National Championships dual.

In Horsemanship, sophomore Kelly Bovaird will look to pace the Wildcats at the National Championships for the second year in a row. Last year, Bovaird rattled off three straight wins in Waco to lead the Wildcats to their second-consecutive Reserve National Championship in as many years.

This season, Bovaird, who garnered 2012 All-Big 12 and honorable mention All-American honors, has notched one match-MVP award to go along with a total of 11 wins, which is tied for tops on the K-State squad.

K-State’s English team (5-6-3) will go into the tournament as the nine-seed and will ride against eighth-seeded TCU, on Thursday, with Flat action beginning at 8:30 a.m., and Fences starting at 12:30 p.m. The two squads met on October 22, where they tied at 5-5 in Hunt Seat action.

The winner of that dual will advance to take on top-seeded Auburn in second-round action on Friday. The Wildcat English team was knocked off by Auburn, 7-3, on October 21.

Riding in her third NCEA National Championships competition, Larissa Laffey will lead the Wildcat Flat team against the Horned Frogs. Hailing from Byfield, Mass., Laffey has had a very successful year for the Wildcats as she was named to the 2012 Academic All-Big 12 first team as well as the 2012 All-Big 12 team, where she was a unanimous selection in Equitation on the Flat. On the year, Laffey has carded a career-high total of 10 wins, which is tied for tops on the Hunt Seat squad.  

In Fences action, sophomore Sarah Mershon, who was a unanimous pick on this year’s All-Big 12 Fences squad as well as an NCEA honorable mention All-American, will look to lead the Wildcats to victory. Mershon has tallied an English team-high-tying 10 wins on the year.

Freshman Madison Wayda will be competing in both English disiplines for the fifth time this season. The Newbury Park, Calif., native has amassed 11 wins on the year, which included three victories at the 2012 Big 12 Equestrian Championship.

Information and results from the 2012 NCEA National Championships will be posted on kstatesports.com as soon as they are made available. You can also get up-to-the-minute results from Waco by following @kstate_gameday on Twitter.

Below is a list of riders that will represent K-State this weekend.
Equitation Over Fences:
Cat Avolese
Sarah Mershon
Madison Wayda
Kali Yates
Shana Barnett, Larissa Laffey (Alternates)

Equitation on the Flat:
Meredith Finch
Larissa Laffey
Madison Wayda
Rachel Webster
Jacquelyn Bogstad, Melanie Hinzpeter  (Alternates)
Laura Lafnitzegger (Demo Round 2)

Kelly Bovaird
Hannah Ribera
Whitney Unkefer
Rachel Wetherell
Chayna DeNicolo, Amelia Crites (Alternates)
Amelia Crites (Demo Round 4)

Jordan Cox
Sam Etsell
Jesse Johnson
Emily Stockford
Savannah Smith, Alayna Warner (Alternates)