The No. 5 K-State Equestrian team will begin their season by traveling to take on No. 3 South Carolina today, followed by a trip up the coast to face Delaware State Saturday. The matchup with South Carolina is not only the season opener for both teams, but the season opener for the National Collegiate Equestrian Association.
The Wildcats finished last season with a Reserve National Championship in Western Seat, and will be looking to make a huge statement by knocking off the Gamecocks in a showdown of top-five teams.
South Carolina traveled to Manhattan last year and lost to the Wildcats 14-6. K-State was especially impressive in Western, winning 8-2, while taking Hunter Seat 6-4. The win was a big one for K-State, coming on March 8 and snapping a three-match losing streak gave the team some good momentum to heading into the Big 12 Championship.
Seniors Rachel Webster and Madison Wayda, who compete in both Hunter Seat events, Equitation on the Flat and Equitation Over Fences, will be looking to win by a larger margin this year, while seniors Jordan Cox and Kelly Bovaird will look to dominate again in Western.
Knocking off South Carolina would be a perfect start to the 2013-2014 season for K-State after losing their season opener a year ago at SMU. Winning a season opener is always a priority, but to defeat a team ranked two spots ahead of you in the top five is huge and could put the Wildcats in the spotlight early in the season.
Today’s match starts at 9 a.m., and live scoring can be found on kstatesports.com. Saturday’s face off against the Delaware State Hornets in Dover, Del. has yet to be given a starting time, but the scores can be found in the same place.
The team’s match in Delaware will be less stressful, but still important for a team looking to start the year on a high note. The Wildcats have not faced the Hornets since 2009 when they won the match 12-4 in Martin, Tenn.
While K-State will be led by its four seniors, it takes more than four riders to win. Seniors Cat Avolese and Shana Barnett will also be looking to start the season off well in Hunter Seat and are joined by several other younger riders. For the Western team, seniors Amelia Crites, Chayna DeNicolo and Rachel Wetherell will all be available for Horsemanship, while Cox and Bovaird will be the “go-to gals” on Reining.
A hot start would certainly make the Wildcats’ home opener next weekend better, but either way, the team is no doubt eager to get the season underway, and what better than the challenge of another top-five team.