K-State’s equestrian team faced a test in the first round of the Big 12 Championship over the weekend in Stillwater, Oklahoma. For the first round of the tournament, the Wildcats were paired up against Baylor, the defending Big 12 Champion and top seed going into the tournament.
The back-and-forth battle resulted in a tied score by the end of the day. The Wildcats fell just shy in raw score, 2088-2899.5. The score marked the second-closest contest in Big 12 Championship history. It was the second time this season K-State has come up short in raw score against Baylor. The Wildcats tied with the Bears back in October and fell on a 1533.75-1578.75 decision.
The Hunt Seat team lead the way for K-State against Baylor, securing an 8-2 domination over the Bears.
“I am so proud of the way Hunt Seat rode today,” assistant Hunt Seat coach Jackie Bogstad said to K-State Sports. “They proved that their hard work and determination over the past few weeks really paid off.”
In Equitation over Fences, juniors Henley Adkins and Taylor Schmidt recorded points for K-State along with sophomores Molly Dunn and Halle Kutsche. K-State took the discipline 4-1.
It was a similar story in Equitation on the Flat, with K-State once again taking the discipline 4-1 over Baylor. Three juniors, Gretchen Koenen, Rory Reichelt and Adkins recorded wins for K-State. Kutsche finished off the Flat with another point for K-State.
The momentum from Hunt Seat failed to carry over to the Western arena. The Bears powered back from their deficit and took Western 8-2. Sophomore Paige Kemper provided a spark for K-State in Horsemanship and sophomore Kali Retlzer added a point of her own in Reining, but it was not enough to take down the Bears.
The loss placed K-State in the consolation side of the bracket. The Wildcats matched up with TCU to compete for third place. Another close battle proved too much for K-State and the Wildcats fell 8-11 to TCU.
“I am proud of the energy and efforts this weekend,” head coach Casie Maxwell said to K-State Sports. “We cleaned some things up today, but we still had errors that could not be had against anyone at this point in the season.”
K-State came up short in Hunt Seat, falling 4-5. The Wildcats were strong in Equitation over Fences, taking the discipline 3-2. Kutsche, Dunn and junior Christina Martinelli all secured points for K-State. Things got tougher in Equitation on the Flat, as TCU dominated K-State 3-1. The lone scorer for K-State in the discipline was Reichelt.
Western arena proved another challenge for K-State and the Wildcats fell 4-6 to TCU. Making her final Big 12 ride in Horsemanship, senior Danielle Kemper scored the lone point of the discipline for K-State.
Things turned around for K-State in the Reining discipline, and the Wildcats triumphed over TCU 3-2. Seniors Nicholle Hatton and Kemper edged the competition and carded two points for K-State, while sophomore Brynn Critcher fed off of their momentum to add a point of her own.
The effort was not enough to knock off TCU, and K-State finished fourth in the Big 12 Tournament.
At the conclusion of the weekend, Maxwell was acknowledged as the Big 12 Coach of the Year for the second year in a row.
“I love this conference and the opportunities I have had to work among such a great group of coaches,” Maxwell said to K-State Sports. “I cannot thank them enough for choosing me for this award — it truly means the world to me.”
Equestrian will be back in action a final time as K-State heads to Waco, Texas, for the NCEA Championships April 14-16.