Individual honors set pace for Friday’s meet

Taylor Todd twists Twister during the Reining competition against OSU on Oct. 9, 2015 at Timbercreek Stables in Manhattan. OSU beat KSU 13-7. (File Photo by Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

In the sport of equestrian, the difference between winning and losing a point can come down to the smallest mistake. After losing two straight meets to ranked opponents, K-State has been focusing on eliminating little mistakes as they prepare for No. 7 TCU Friday at Timbercreek Stables.

The Wildcats are coming off a tough loss to No. 3 Baylor on Oct. 30. The meet ended in a tiebreaker and came down to raw score to determine the winner. K-State came up just short with a score of 1452.3-1347.3

“The hardest part of dealing with a tiebreaker is knowing that it was so close,” junior Hunt Seat rider Gretchen Koenen said. “It is easy to pick apart your ride and think about the slightest things that you could’ve changed to edge out your opponent.”

Koenen said the team didn’t take the tiebreaker as a loss. Instead, she said the team is pushing forward and making the changes necessary to have strong rides against TCU on Friday.

Head coach Casie Maxwell said she was happy with the way the team performed against Baylor.

“It was encouraging to our team to know that they could hold their own and they are that close to being able to defeat a team of that caliber,” Maxwell said. “It just motivated us to keep doing what we’re doing because we just keep getting better every time we go out there.”

K-State will go into this meet riding strong as two riders, junior Alyssa Lombardi and senior Danielle Kemper, have both earned honors for their performances. Lombardi was named one of four Big 12 Riders of the Month for her performance in horsemanship. She said she found out about her recognition after a friend tagged her in a post on Twitter.

“I may or may not have started to tear up a little bit,” Lombardi said. “I was really excited and really happy.”

Lombardi said she has worked hard on building up her confidence over the past season. She gained a lot of confidence in the postseason last year, she said, and things came together for her this season.

“It kind of reassured me in a way,” Lombardi said. “It made me feel really good and validated that I am riding well right now.”

Kemper will represent K-State as one of 16 riders selected to compete in the 2015 American Quarter Horse Association Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge on Nov. 15-16.

Kemper was chosen based on her statistics from last year, Maxwell said.

Kemper said being chosen was humbling. She said she’s always seen the other girls who were selected as the girls to beat, and now she is right there with them. She said she is not letting the hype of qualifying for the challenge control her performance.

“I’m going to go in there and take it step by step just like I would a regular meet,” Kemper said. “I just hope to stay consistent, have those good rides and believe in myself.”

Maxwell said she is proud of Kemper and Lombardi for their accomplishments and sees this as an opportunity to motivate the team as a whole.

“You always want to be up there in that elite group,” Maxwell said. “I think it definitely motivates people to know that we’ve got athletes capable of that.”

The meet against TCU will start at 10 a.m. on Friday at Timbercreek Stables.