In front of a near-capacity crowd, the Kansas State equestrian team used a strong start and finish to defeat the second-seeded Baylor Bears 10-6 to take home third-place honors from the 2012 Big 12 Championship on Saturday at TimberCreek Stables.
Throughout the day, K-State and Baylor went back and forth, trading blows in the first three events, before the Wildcat Reining squad entered the arena. In the last event of the day, with the score tied at 6-6, K-State rode to a 4-0 sweep over Baylor to lock down the program’s first-ever win at the Big 12 Championship.
”It was a tough loss yesterday,” K-State coach Casie Lisabeth said. “I think we could have easily won that match, but our conversation with our team last night was, ‘you can go out and go for a win tomorrow or you can just give up because you do not get to ride for the championship.’ They were good today and they defended their home court.”
In the Western arena, K-State downed the Bears 6-4. The two squads tied 2-2 in Horsemanship before the Wildcats closed out the event with a dominating 4-0 performance in Reining.
Junior Sam Etsell, who was named the championship’s Most Outstanding Performer in Reining, continued her stellar season as she defeated Baylor’s Olivia Rogers 141-138 to open the scoring for K-State in the discipline. A team captain, Etsell, who was also named to the 2012 All-Big 12 Reining squad, now has nine victories on the year.
“Today was amazing,” Etsell said. “I am so proud to be a part of this team because every single one of us came out and gave it our all. It would have been nice to be riding for the championship but our girls rode their hearts out today.”
Sophomore Jordan Cox and freshman Jesse Johnson continued the winning ways for the K-State Reining team, as Cox knocked off Baylor rider Amber Mooney 135-132 to notch her second win of the weekend. Riding in the second-to-last spot, Johnson earned a 136-133.5 win over Ellie Powell of Baylor, marking the second win in as many days for the Wildcat newcomer.
Clinching the overall team victory for K-State was sophomore Emily Stockford. Riding in the last position of the day for the Wildcats, Stockford slipped past Baylor’s Katherine Berg 125.5-125 to ensure the program’s first win in championship history.
Sophomores Kelly Bovaird and Rachel Wetherell paced the K-State Horsemanship team for the second day in a row with a pair of wins over their Baylor counterparts. Bovaird out-rode Baylor’s Bryn Lindley 143.5-129.5 to card her 11th win of the 2011-12 season, while Wetherell tallied her seventh victory of the year as she downed Ashley Garza of Baylor, 146-143.5,
In Hunt Seat, the Wildcats started off the day with a 3-1 win over Baylor in Equitation Over Fences action before the Bears evened the score with a 3-1 win of their own in Equitation on the Flat.
For the second day in a row, freshman Madison Wayda shined for the English squad, as she picked up her third win of the weekend and her 10th and 11th wins of the season. The Newbury Park, Calif., native was the only point scorer for K-State in Flat action, as she knocked off Taylor Brown of Baylor, 155-152. Wayda also tallied a point for the K-State Fences team as she rode past Bears rider Kara Fergusson 161-155.
Also in Equitation Over Fences, junior Kali Yates carded her second-consecutive win of the weekend by blasting Baylor’s Lisa Goldman 145-90. Sophomore Cat Avolese closed out the scoring for the Wildcats in the discipline with a 160-157 winning ride over AshleyAnn McGehee of Baylor.
In championship round action, top-seeded Oklahoma State edged Texas A&M, 3,329-3,326 to capture the second Big 12 title in the last four years for the Cowgirls. The match was decided by a tie-breaker for the first time in championship history.
The K-State equestrian team will be back in action in two weekends as it will head to Waco, Texas, to compete in the 2012 NCEA National Championships, April 12-14 at the Willis Family Equestrian Center.
As of late, K-State has had an extraordinary amount of success at the National Championships, as the Wildcats have registered back-to-back Reserve National Champion honors in Western.