Feb. 1, 2014
BROOKINGS, S.D. – With the score notched at nine apiece, Henley Adkins came up big for the No. 5 Kansas State equestrian team as the freshman scored the winning point to give K-State the 10-9 victory over South Dakota State on Saturday. In addition to the dramatic win, K-State swept all four Most Outstanding Player (MOP) honors on the day.
“Today was a great start to our spring season and a big step in the right direction,” said head coach Casie Maxwell. “Statistically it was an extremely close, hard-fought battle and SDSU rode really well. We had had some tricky horses and a few minor mistakes, but overall we rode extremely well and adjusted properly.”
Heading into Equitation on the Flat, both teams were tied at seven points each. Cat Avolese then struck first, scoring the first point for the Wildcats after she edged out SDSU’s Marielle Golden, 73-71. After the Jackrabbits took the next point, Madison Wayda answered right back to give the lead right back to K-State, with a 71-69 win over her counterpart. SDSU once again took the next point, setting up the dramatics for the final point. With the pressure building on Adkins, the freshman delivered the best ride of the event and recorded a high-score of 80 to give her team the win. K-State finished Equitation on the Flat with a 3-2 advantage, while Adkins took home one of her MOP honors.
“To be honest, I did not even know when I went in that I needed to get my point to win,” said Adkins. “I just went in there and rode what I had under me. That was all we could do today. It was rough but in the end our hard work leading up to today paid off.”
The Wildcats found themselves down early, after dropping a close 3-2 decision in Equitation Over Fences. Wayda gave K-State its first point of the day, as she took down Blair Julia Wright, 83-80. After two straight SDSU points, Adkins showed her riding prowess, scoring an 85, which proved to be an event high. The Moorpark, Calif., product earned the MOP for the event.
The Western team faced a tough lineup, but was able to overcome the Jackrabbits, 5-4.
K-State’s Reiners proved to be a dominant force, winning the event 3-1. Senior Jesse Johnson made her season debut and did not disappoint. Johnson won her head-to-head matchup against Caroline Lesousky, 71-70. Savannah Smith earned the second point, carding a 71.5 for the win. Captain Jordan Cox picked up the third and final point, after soundly defeating Laura Dunlavy, 71-65.5. Cox would take home the MOP in Reining.
The two Horsemanship teams battled back-and-forth, with the Jackrabbits gaining a slight 3-2 advantage. Amelia Crites recorded the high score of the day, earning a 73.5 and picking up the first point for the Wildcats. Rachel Wetherell was the other point scorer, narrowly defeating Shelby Webb, 72.5-71. Whitney Unkefer picked up an exhibition win after she knocked off Danielle Dickerson, 71-54. Crites was named MOP after her strong performance.
“I am extremely proud of our MOP’s,” said Maxwell. “I have to give it to Henley Adkins for having an outstanding day and securing the win for us as the last rider. We are ready to go home, make our adjustments and grind it out to prepare for Oklahoma State.”
The Wildcats will have a couple of weeks off before traveling to Stillwater, Okla., for a Big 12 showdown with No. 7 Oklahoma State. The Wildcats return to home action on Feb. 28 for a conference clash with No. 3 Baylor.