Once you get to the final tournament of the year, things get harder. The K-State equestrian team learned that firsthand on Thursday afternoon in Waco, Texas. The No. 5 Wildcats squared off with former Big 12 foe No. 12 Texas A&M; in the first round of the NCEA National Championships.
The Aggies’ strong Reining performance helped them jump out to a 3-0 lead. The Wildcats and Aggies then tied in the Equitation on the Flat, 2-2. It was the Wildcats strong performance in Horsemanship that got K-State back into the competition, winning 4-0. The Wildcats then did just enough in Equitation Over Fences to tie 2-2, ultimately giving the Wildcats the 8-7 win. Junior Madison Wayda earned the winning point for the Wildcats.
Leading the way for the strong Horsemanship was senior Kelly Bovaird, earning a win.
“Our morning did not start off the way we wanted it but we just got together and built up our energy even more going into Horsemanship,” Bovaird said. “We just rode really aggressively and really strong to pull off the four wins and that just set the pace for the rest of the day.”
It took a full-team performance, but the Wildcats MVP might have been freshman Henley Adkins. Competing in her first ever national championship match, the freshman earned two wins in the Hunter seat in both Equitation on the Flat and Over Fences.
“It was incredible,” Adkins said. “I walked into the facilities Wednesday and it felt like medal finals my junior career all over again. So I kind of just had that mindset and really just rode to just ride and get it done for the team and it paid off.”
The Wildcats will now face off against No. 4 Auburn. Action is set to start again this morning.
“I think it builds even more fire for us to go into (Friday) and just dominate it,” Bovaird said.