Equestrian Opens Season Oct. 2

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The K-State equestrian team will be tested out of the gate in its 2009 season opener as last year's VENC Western runner-up Texas Christian visits Fox Creek Farms on October 2. The show will begin at 9 a.m. and is free to the public. 

"Our team is ready to get in the arena and put its work in practice to the test," said head coach Casie Lisabeth. "TCU has been in the arena five times already, so we know they are good and warmed up."

The Horned Frogs will enter Friday's competition with a 3-2 record on the year with wins already this season over Georgia, South Carolina and Miami (Ohio).

The Wildcat Western squad, which finished last season by taking home fifth place at the VENC, will look to have a strong performance as it opens what it hopes will be a national title-contending season.

In the Horsemanship competition, the Wildcats will be ripe with experience as all five riders that will be competing on Friday are beginning their senior campaigns. Seniors Alyssa Freeman, Mikaela Sundgren, Caley Coffey, Laura Browne and Courtney Watters enter the competition with a combined 37 wins at the varsity level last season. These five seniors, led by Freeman, who is coming off of a season that saw her become the first K-State rider ever to qualify for the VENC as an individual, will look to start the 2009-10 campaign with a strong win over a talented opponent.

"I am looking forward to getting our season started," said Freeman. "TCU has a very strong squad but as long as we ride precisely and aggressively, I am confident we can compete with them."

In the Reining discipline, the Wildcats will feature four riders with vast experience in varsity competitions, along with a talented newcomer. Seniors Tara Hallan, Morgan Campbell and Kaylee Stout combined for 28 wins and three MVP awards during the 2008-09 season and will be relied upon heavily this year as well. Junior Alecia Zimbelman will look to build upon a breakout sophomore campaign that saw her amass a 13-5-1 record while also bringing home three MVP awards. Freshman Samantha Etsell will round out the group as she gets her first start at the collegiate level.

The English squad will look to have a strong start to the 2009-10 season as well. Over fences, the Wildcats will feature five senior riders that will bring a bevy of experience into the show arena. Seniors Elizabeth Godfrey, Paige Sullivan, Bridget Doyle and Katie Mellon will be led into the arena by senior team captain Kendall Marvin.

"We are really excited for the upcoming show," said Marvin. "TCU is a good team, and going into the competition we will need to be focused on every ride. We are ready to get the season started."

The Wildcats will round out the show with a young group of riders in the Equitation on the Flat competition. Mellon will be looked at for her senior leadership, as she is the only rider with varsity experience that will be competing on the Flat this Friday. Juniors Natasha Vincent and Christina Costello will get their first taste of varsity competition this weekend, along with freshmen Kali Yates and Meredith Finch.

"Our girls need to step in the arena and hit the ground running," said Lisabeth. "We know we need to have solid and aggressive performances across the board next Friday to pull out a win."

The Wildcats will also feature four riders in Junior Varsity Competion. On the Western side, freshman Hannah Ribera will compete in Horsemanship while senior Danielle Pettera will compete in the Reining discipline. For the English squad, freshman Melanie Hinzpeter will compete on the flat while junior Soffia Farrall de Cruz will round out the competition over fences.