K-State equestrian drops close decision, 7-5

By The Mercury

FRESNO, Calif. — A battle of top-10 teams saw the sixth-ranked Kansas State equestrian team drop a close contest to No. 2 Auburn, 7-5, on Saturday.

The Wildcats were led by Meredith Finch and Kelly Bovaird, who picked up Most Outstanding Performer (MOP) awards for their performances.

K-State coach Casie Maxwell was proud of her team’s performance, despite the loss.

“The girls rode very strong today but it was not quite enough to overcome a tough Auburn team,” she said. “They put forward good, solid rides, but also had a few minor errors where errors could not afford to be made.

“A huge congratulations to our two MOPS award winners Kelly Bovaird and Meredith Finch — they did an outstanding job in the arena today.”

The Hunter seat team had mixed results on the day, finishing 3-5.

Finch, a senior captain led a strong side in Equitation on the Flat, with K-State taking the discipline, 3-1.

Finch scored a 78 on her run and took home her second consecutive MOP award.

Sophomore Madison Wayda won for the third time in two days, earning a 68 on her ride. Senior Larissa Laffey scored the final point for the Wildcats, finishing with a 64.

The Western team went head-to-head, finishing tied with Auburn, 2-2, with the two sides drawing all four Reining points.

K-State did win the tie breaker, 538-534.5.

“You can tell from the scores it was a very tough competition,” Maxwell said. “I have yet to see solid ties in an event, so that was unusual but also a reflection of a strong competition.”

Senior Whitney Unkefer gave the Wildcats their first point in Horsemanship, racking up a score of 67.5.

Bovaird, a junior, showed why she was selected a captain, had an impressive ride which earned her a score of 70 and an MOP award. The victory marks her 30th career win.

The Wildcats return to action when they travel to Waco, Texas, for a Big 12 showdown with Baylor on March 1.

K-State defeated Baylor, 13-7, when the two teams met during the fall season.

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