April 17, 2014
WACO, Texas - After falling behind 5-2 early in the day, the No. 5 seed Kansas State equestrian team used a late comeback to defeat No. 12 seed Texas A&M, 8-7, to advance to the second round of the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA). The Wildcats will face No. 4 seed Auburn.
“It was a really hard fought battle today going up against Texas A&M in the first round,” said head coach Casie Maxwell. “It was definitely too close for comfort and we hope to address the mistakes we made today so that we can beat Auburn by a bigger win margin.”
Going into Horsemanship, the Wildcats trailed 5-2 and were in desperate need of some points. Chayna DeNicolo kicked things off on a positive note, earning a 146-145 win over Molli Jacobs. Rachel Wetherell followed suit, also earning an impressive win in the form of a 146.5-138.5 victory over Logan Pluhar. K-State’s third consecutive point came from Amelia Crites, whose score of 149 was the highest in the matchup. Kelly Bovaird finished the sweep with a narrow 146.5-141.5 win over Laura Brainard. The win in Horsemanship gave the Wildcats a 6-5 lead with one event to go.
The sweep set up a dramatic finish heading into the final event, Equitation Over Fences. Henley Adkins was first into the arena for K-State and did not disappoint. The freshman from Moorpark, Calif., opened the event with an excellent ride, scoring a match-high 169 and earning a point. Needing one final point to seal the win, Madison Wayda entered the arena needing to outscore Texas A&M rider Leah Chenelle, who posted a 155. With all eyes on her, Wayda guided her horse on a nearly flawless ride to earn a score of 164 and push the Wildcats into the next round.
“It was very exciting, especially going in first day against a team that is really good like Texas A&M,” said Wayda. “It was awesome to go in there and win and come out with that great feeling. Everyone rode really strong and you could tell that there was a huge improvement from the Big 12 Championship. Everyone has that confidence and faith in one another to go in and get it done.”
Earlier in the day, the K-State Reining team put together some excellent rides, but were unable to overcome Texas A&M, dropping the event 3-0.
In Equitation on the Flat, the two teams traded blows and rode to a 2-2 tie. Cat Avolese earned one of the points after she defeated Paige Russell, 145-137. Adkins earned her first win of the day in a 146-142 victory over Haley Buchmiller.
The win now sets up a showdown with Auburn. The Wildcats and Tigers met last season, with Auburn edging K-State, 7-5.