Equestrian Finishes Spring Season Strong

MANHATTAN, Kan. The Kansas State Women’s Equestrian team took another step forward to becoming a prominent force in Varsity Equestrian competition as the Wildcats placed fifth overall at the VENC and finished third in the nation in the Western category.


Under first year co-head coaches Ashley Foster and Casie Williamson, K-State not only performed well on the national stage but also showcased its talent against Big 12 rivals at home in the Central Championships. K-State knocked off top-seeded Texas A&M, 11-5, to capture third place overall.


Although finishing the season on a high note, the Wildcats struggled to begin the spring season as K-State dropped its first three shows all on the road. First against Oklahoma State on Feb. 2, the Cowgirls rode past K-State, 17-5. Next up, the Wildcats rode into Waco, Texas to take on Baylor. Despite a strong performance by the Western squad, K-State lost the competition, 10-8. The following day Texas A&M handed the Wildcats another loss, 14-8, to drop K-State’s overall record to 4-5.


After the three match skid, K-State returned home for competition against Oklahoma State looking for its first win of the spring season. After a nail-biting finish K-State came out on top, 10-9, to even up its record at 5-5.


Next up for the Cats, national powerhouse Georgia came to Manhattan for a varsity show. The Wildcats failed to win its second match in a row as they lost, 11-5. K-State looked to get back on track at home against Fresno State the following week in the final regular season match. The Wildcats came out victorious, 8-5, and went into the Central Championship competition on a high note.


After losing to Oklahoma State, 8-7, in the first round of the Central Championships, the Wildcats responded and topped Texas A&M, 11-5, to place third overall.

Next up for K-State was the VENC and first round action against Delaware State’s English squad. The Wildcats came out victorious with a close, 992-928, tiebreaking win. In Western, the Cats faced UT-Martin, and took care of business with an 8-0 win.


In the next round, after a hard fought battle, the English squad lost to Texas A&M, 5-2.  After upsetting No. 4 seed Texas A&M in the Western division in a tiebreaker, the Wildcats faced off against TCU, the No. 1 seed, with TCU handing the Western squad a loss, 5-3.


After defeating Oklahoma State, 6-1, the Cats captured third place overall in Western at the VENC.


The Wildcats received contributions from both young and veteran riders throughout the fall. On the English side, Whitney Snyder, the lone senior on the squad, had a fantastic season. Her 19-12-3 overall record led team.


Junior rider Leslie Yates also had a solid season with 15 varsity wins and captured an MVP in Equitation on the Flat against Tennessee-Martin and Baylor.


Sophomores Kendall Marvin and Ashley Collett had also solid seasons. Marvin collected seven wins. Collett finished the season, 7-7, and represented the Equitation over Fences squad at the VENC.


"I am thrilled with how the western squad ended the season,” Western head coach Casie Williamson said. “It's always good to be better then you were the year before, and we hope to continue with that momentum into next season. Everybody on the team worked so hard all year and really pulled through for one another. That's always good for a coach, and it makes my job so much easier, when the athletes are so self-motivated and have such strong dedication."


K-State’s western team was led by many young riders including sophomore Laura Browne. Browne posted an overall score of 12-5-2 and picked up wins against UT-Martin, and Oklahoma State at the VENC. Sophomore Morgan Campbell also had a stellar season in Reining with an overall record of 13-4-2.


“The new riders had hit the ground running this season and never looked back,” Williamson said. “The entire group worked together and peaked at just the right time going into Nationals. They spent the entire season getting confident and mentally focused, and they really proved themselves and all their hard work at Nationals."


In her first season with the Wildcats, junior Alyssa Freeman finished the season with the most wins of any Wildcat rider with 24. Freeman also collected five wins and one tie at the VENC. Also in her first season as a Wildcat, sophomore Tara Hallan had a sensational season with an overall record of 9-2-1.


"It's exciting to return next season with almost every rider,” Williamson said. “Now that everyone is seasoned and has all the experience from this year, we will be able to start next season at an even higher level."