K-State Prepares for NCEA Championship

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- After a hard-fought second place finish at the Big 12 Championship, the No. 9 Wildcats look to carry over their energy into the 2015 NCEA Championships, which begins on Thursday in Waco, Texas at the Extraco Events Center. K-State opens the first round with a matchup against No. 8 SMU.

Beginning with the 2015 championship, the top-12 overall teams (Western and Hunt Seat combined) are invited to compete. The NCEA Selection Committee determines and invites these teams based on a number of factors throughout the season. The top-four seeds receive opening round byes.

"It is exciting that the National Championship is now right in front of us. This is what we have been working towards all year, and I feel like our team is very well prepared," said head coach Casie Maxwell. "We had great success at the Big 12 Championship and have had ample time to come home and work on what we needed heading into Nationals. We have got a tough bracket in front of us, so it is important that the team take it one day and one round at a time."

Last season, K-State defeated Texas A&M by an 8-7 decision in the first round of the National Championship, but fell to Auburn in the quarterfinals, 12-3.  The last time SMU and the Wildcats matched up was last season in Martin, Tennessee, where K-State came home with a 13-6 victory against the Mustangs.

The Hunt Seat team will be led by sophomore Henley Adkins who has helped pave the way for the Wildcats this season. Adkins' standout performance this season has earned her 2015 NCEA All-America Second Team honors, two Big 12 Rider of the Month citations, six Most Outstanding Performer (MOP) awards, All-Big 12 honors in Equitation over Fences and Equitation on the Flat and named as one of the four Big 12 Equestrian 2015 Riders of the Year in Equitation on the Flat while maintaining a 17-15 season record.

Alongside Adkins competing in both Equitation on the Flat and Equitation over Fences will be senior captain Madison Wayda and sophomores Alexis Graves and Taylor Schmidt. Freshmen Molly Dunn and Halle Kutsche will join the squad in Equitation over Fences. Sophomore Gretchen Koenen and Christina Martinelli will compete in Equitation on the Flat in hopes to secure the points in the discipline.  

Junior captain Danielle Kemper will continue to be a standout in Horsemanship against a strong SMU team. Kemper was named March Big 12 Rider of the Month in Horsemanship. Kemper, also an NCEA All-America Second Team honoree, went undefeated in the Big 12 Championship while advancing her season record to 11-3-1 with two MOP accolades. At the conclusion of the Big 12 Championships, the league recognized Kemper as she was named an All-Big 12 recipient in Horsemanship.  

Kemper will be joined in Horsemanship by senior Kelsey Sousa. Joining Kemper and Sousa will be sophomore Alyssa Lombardi as well as freshmen Sydney Anson, Kirsten Chamberland and Paige Kemper.  

K-State's well experienced Reining team will look to senior captain Savannah Smith and junior Kara Guy to lay the foundation for the Wildcats in this discipline. Junior Nicholle Hatton, freshmen Brynn Critcher and Jessica Johns will look to secure the point in their ride to help progress the Wildcats to the second round of the tournament.

The winner between the Wildcats and Mustangs will advance to face No. 1 seed Georgia on Friday, with the final two rounds to be held on Saturday.

Live updates for the match against SMU can be found on K-State's Gameday Twitter account, @kstate_gameday. 

Henley Adkins

Molly Dunn
Alexis Graves
Halle Kutsche
Taylor Schmidt
Madison Wayda

Henley Adkins

Alexis Graves
Gretchen Koenen
Christina Martinelli
Taylor Schmidt
Madison Wayda

Sydney Anson

Kirsten Chamberland
Danielle Kemper
Paige Kemper
Alyssa Lombardi
Kelsey Sousa

Brynn Critcher

Kara Guy
Nicholle Hatton
Jessica Johns
Savannah Smith