Trying new things is always difficult, but senior Cat Avolese of the K-State Equestrian team makes it look pretty easy sometimes.
Avolese hails from St. James, N.Y., so she took a chance going to college so far from home, but she felt like K-State was the right place to call home for the next four years.
“I chose K-State because when I came here, I really loved the atmosphere,” Avolese said. “It’s a huge sports school and I felt very welcome here, and was excited to join the team.”
Avolese was able to ride right away as a freshman, and while a 4-10 record may not seem that great, she was able to finish her season strong with wins against conference foes Oklahoma State and Texas A&M; and was picked to ride in the Varsity Equestrian National Championships.
A year later, as a sophomore, Avolese notched a 9-8 record, including two wins in the National Collegiate Equestrian Association National Championships. As a junior last season, she went 5-6-1, and was looked to before this season began as a key to the Wildcats’ success this season.
So far, she has delivered on those expectations, notching four wins already and being named Rider of the Month for September by the NCEA in Equitation on the Flat along the way. What makes her award more impressive is that this season is the first one that Avolese has competed in that event.
“I’ve never done the Flat before, so it’s great that Coach [Casie Maxwell] had the confidence in me,” Avolese said. “Coach has called on me to go help the team win, and my goal is to help the team push for every win.”
With a 4-1 record so far this season, Avolese is the leader of a Hunter Seat squad that has been finding success in droves this season, especially lately. After an 8-2 loss at the hands of South Carolina in the season opener, the Hunter Seat squad has ridden with vengeance in their last few meets.
They took a 6-2 win over Delaware State as part of a 13-3 win for the team, and later that day, K-State beat a joint Miami (Ohio) and Ohio State squad 9-6 in Hunter Seat. Avolese had a huge hand in both victories, winning a point on the Flat against both Delaware State and the combined team from Ohio. Along with her point against the Miami (Ohio) and Ohio State team, she was named Most Outstanding Player.
Against Oklahoma State a week later, she scored another point on the Flat, rolling all over her opponent with an 82-0 score. Two weekends ago, she scored another point against Texas A&M; for her fourth win on the young season.
In five meets, Avolese has scored four points, been named Most Outstanding Player, and Rider of the Month, all in an event she started competing in a month ago. Those wins have helped fuel her squad and the entire team.
“The Hunt Seat squad is kickin’ right now,” said Avolese of the team’s performance this season. “We have a great group of seniors and great freshmen, and the two are joining to become one great team.”
So far in 2013, the team has received contribution from riders of all grades, but the team is led by its core of seniors. Despite the fact that she is riding in a new event, Avolese has been a leader for the team as they fight to keep their top-five ranking.
“Every year I’m finding my voice more,” Avolese said. “We’ve been kickin’ it since the beginning of the season as a Hunt Seat squad, and it’s a huge confidence boost to see all these wins. I’m excited and pumped to keep pushing the squad forward.”
In order to keep their great season rolling, K-State must go through conference foes Baylor and TCU this weekend, and the season does not let up from there. But with Avolese at the lead, the Wildcats expect great things this season, and rightfully so.
Coming from New York, Avolese chose to come to the Manhattan that was not near home, and once here, she has been called upon to compete in a new event and done so in stellar fashion. Few people can say that they have mastered new things so quickly, but Avolese has done so and made it look easy in her final season as a Wildcat.