Equestrian Caps Season With Fourth Place National Finish

MANHATTAN, Kan. -The 2006-07 Kansas State equestrian team transitioned from IHSA competition to the Varsity head-to-head format with ease this season as it finished as the fourth overall team at the 2007 Varsity Equestrian National Championships.


Last season, the Wildcats competed in only four Varsity competitions including the VENC, placing sixth in both Western and English.


“The transition from IHSA to Varsity competition had to be made for our program,” head coach Teresa Slough said. “Obviously we did a great job this season and the more familiar we become with this format, the more we will continue with greater successs.”


“When every equestrian program starts out they usually begin competing at the IHSA level. We moved to Varsity competition to compete at a higher level playing field and we are very happy with the result,” Western coach Casie Lisabeth said. “The varsity competition is more competitive and is much more spectator-friendly than the IHSA format. It also helps us to recruit some of the best athletes in the sport because younger riders are becoming more familiar with this format.”


“It was definitely an adjustment transitioning to varsity competition, but overall it’s been pretty smooth,” English coach Ashley Duda said. “I fell our program went through a total reconstruction. It’s been amazing to see the difference between our first show at Georgia and our final show at VENC.”


Along with the fourth overall place finish at VENC, K-State’s English squad finished in third place and had several great rides. Sophomore Jenny Giraldin went undefeated on the weekend and finished the season with a 10-7 overall record. Junior Whiney Snyder led all English riders this season with her 19-13-1 overall record, as well as earning seven MVP awards. Freshman Kendall Marvin had a stellar first season for the Cats as she garnered a 12-7-1 overall record with one MVP award, and senior Casey Finnell also had a terrific year with her 17-16-1 overall record.


Three freshmen saw varsity action for the Wildcats this season including Kendall Marvin, Ashley Collett and Bridget Doyle. Sophomore Leslie Yates had a stellar season over the fences with her 9-6 record and one MVP award.


“Placing third nationally in English at VENC really helped our program gain a lot of national attention,” head coach Teresa Slough said. “This will really help us in recruiting for the future and we look forward to continued success in the English category.”


“I think we are headed in the right direction and we are definitely getting stronger,” Duda said. “Both English and Western are competing well together and that’s great.”

On the Western Side, K-State placed sixth and had a very successful weekend at VENC. Although the Wildcats entered the week at VENC as the three-seed, K-State still defeated second-seeded Georgia. Senior Sara Weller, with her 18-11-3 overall record and four MVP awards picked up two wins over Georgia to lead the Cats. Sophomore Jana Lechtenberg tallied the other win for K-State with a 141-0 win over Lauren Love. Kansas State then advanced to face Baylor in the fifth place match, losing 6-2.


Overall this season the Western squad featured some great riders including two outstanding freshmen in Mikaela Sundgren who finished with an overall record of 7-2 and received one MVP award, and Laura Browne who was 9-4 in Horsemanship.


Other Western riders that excelled this season were junior Lindsey Salsbury with her 12-15-2 overall mark and one MVP award, and senior Dennon Zimbelman, who completed the season with a 5-9 overall record.


“I was really proud of how everyone competed overall this season. It shows us where we stand as a program,” Lisabeth said. “We know we are headed in the right direction and we ended the year much stronger than we started. We are much more comfortable going into next year then we were this year. We have a lot of experience coming back and that helps a lot.”


Although not competing as a team at the IHSA level this season, K-State will send three riders to IHSA Nationals this weekend, May 3-6, in Springfield, Mass., including junior Emily Wolfe in Beginner Horsemanship, senior Macie Ayers in Novice Flat and Dresden Sommer in Intermediate Flat.


Last season at IHSA Nationals, K-State took home three individual national championships, including senior Heather Culwell in beginner western horsemanship, junior Sarah Coomes in intermediate western horsemanship and senior Sara Weller in open reining.


Results from the weekend’s show will be available online at kstatesports.com as they become available.