K-State Equestrian preps for final ride in NCEA Championship

Sophomore hunter Daniella McCormick prepares to jump a fence with her horse on Oct. 9, 2015, at Timbercreek Stables in Manhattan. (File Photo by Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

It was March when K-State’s equestrian team competed last in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Big 12 Championships had its share of highlights and struggles. K-State finished fourth in the tournament, but not before putting in solid effort.

K-State’s first round of competition against the defending Big 12 champions, the Baylor Bears, came down to raw score, with the Wildcats coming up short 2088-2899.5. The consolation round proved another close battle with the Wildcats, but they fell 8-11 to TCU.

All four teams from the Big 12 were selected to compete in the NCEA National Championships this week, and all four teams are seeded in the top 10. K-State took the No. 8 seed, TCU is the No. 6, Big 12 champion Oklahoma State took the No. 4 spot and Baylor enters at No. 3.

The top 12 equestrian teams in the country, as determined by the NCEA selection committee, are invited to participate in the NCEA National Championship. The top four teams receive a first-round bye.

Last season, K-State had a strong first-round performance in the tournament, taking down SMU 10-5. The quarterfinal round proved a bit more difficult, and the Wildcats fell to Georgia 5-10.

This year, the Wildcats are hungry for success, entering the tournament with a 4-10 record after having lost their last five matchups. K-State’s last win came in February in an 8-7 victory over Fresno State.

K-State will face No. 9 Delaware State in the opening round of the tournament.

Delaware State is 7-6 overall this season. The 2015-16 season also marks the first time in school history that Delaware State has been nationally ranked in the top 10.

Back in November, the Wildcats dominated Delaware State in an 11-5 decision. The Reining team lead the way on a 4-0 sweep of the discipline. Sophomore Brynn Critcher’s 68.5-66.5 performance over Delaware State’s Alexis Gratkowski highlighted the sweep with a Most Outstanding Performer honor.

In Equitation on the Flat, junior Henley Adkins made a statement of her own. Adkins helped notch a 3-1 victory in the discipline on a ride that earned her a MOP honor on a dominating 92-82 victory over Delaware State’s Emily Nelson.

Auburn, the No. 1 seeded team in the tournament, awaits the winner of K-State versus Delaware State.

Since its beginning in 2000, the K-State equestrian team has earned three team reserve national championships and has had five individual national champions.

The first round of competition kicks off in Waco, Texas, at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.