Western Squad to Ride for National Championship

WACO, Texas - Kansas State will ride for its first-ever national title on Saturday as the Wildcat Western squad defeated South Carolina, 6-2, Friday night in semifinal action of the 2010 Varsity Equestrian National Championships at the Heart O' Texas Fair Complex.

The Wildcats, who entered the contest as the No. 6 seed in the Western bracket, were able to take care of business by knocking off the 10th-seeded Gamecocks in their semifinal matchup, marking the first time in program history that a squad will compete for a National Championship at the VENC.

"Today was a tremendous experience for our team," said head coach Casie Lisabeth. "We have been working towards this for years and I am so proud of all of the riders for their hard work. Tomorrow will be a lot of fun and a huge reward for them; this is an outstanding group of riders that deserves to be recognized for their dedication."

The Cats will look to ride past top-seeded Texas A&M Saturday for the title with the matchup getting underway at 12:30 p.m. at the Heart O' Texas Fair Complex.  

K-State started the semifinal competition by riding USC to a 2-2 draw in the Reining discipline. Senior Kaylee Stout has yet to lose at the VENC, as she picked up the first Wildcat point by defeating the Gamecocks' Audrey Jewell, 138-0. Junior Alecia Zimbelman picked up the remaining K-State point, riding past Amanda Pope, 135-131, for her second win at the VENC.

The Wildcats rolled from that point on, sweeping USC in the Horsemanship discipline. This marks the second time during the course of the VENC that K-State has swept an opponent in Horsemanship, the first coming against Delaware State in round one.

Senior team captains Alyssa Freeman and Laura Browne came up big again for the Wildcats, each winning their third straight matchup at the championships. Fellow senior Mikaela Sundgren also remained undefeated at the VENC, riding past Maggie Fortune by a margin of 143-141. Senior Courtney Watters rounded out the four-point victory for the Wildcats, defeating Emily Bookwalter, 144.5-140.5.

The No. 10 seed K-State Hunter Seat squad had its season come to a close Friday night, falling to sixth-seeded Oklahoma State, 8-0.

Results will be posted on kstatesports.com as they become available.

-k-statesports.com -