Equestrian closes out at NCEA National Championships

Teammates watch other riders during the K-State Equestrian Purple vs White Scrimmage on Sunday Sept. 20, 2015 at Timbercreek Stables. (File Photo by Nathan Jones | The Collegian)

The NCEA National Championship put an official end to the K-State equestrian program. The Wildcats began competition on Thursday in a matchup against Delaware State in the first round of the tournament.

No. 8-seeded K-State rode strong in the opening round, defeating No. 9 Delaware State by a score of 10-6. This was the second time this season K-State has topped Delaware State.

Things stayed close in the beginning. The Wildcats and Hornets tied in Reining at 2-2. Seniors Danielle Kemper and Nicholle Hatton notched scoring rides for K-State. Both had solid rides, with Kemper defeating Delaware State’s Alexis Gratkowski 137-130.5 and Hatton defeating Delaware State’s Cheyenne Adams 141-138.

K-State continued to roll forward in Equitation on the Flat, taking the discipline 3-1. Highlighting the discipline, junior Christina Martinelli tacked on a point with a 156-127 decision over Delaware State’s Caroline Schock. Juniors Rory Reichelt and Gretchen Koenen also contributed to the score. Koenen tallied her eighth win of the season and 16th as a Wildcat.

Moving on to the Horsemanship discipline, the Wildcats had another dominant performance leading to K-State topping Delaware State 3-1. Junior Alyssa Lombardi, sophomore Paige Kemper and Danielle Kemper had scoring rides for K-State. Danielle’s performance marked her 14th win of the season.

Martinelli and sophomore Halle Kutsche scored rides in Equitation over Fences and finished off the 10-6 victory.

“Overall, we rode really well and exuded a lot of confidence today in our rides,” head coach Casie Maxwell said to K-State Sports on Thursday. “We still had small mistakes here and there that will cost us as the week goes on, but I am definitely proud of the strong start by our team.”

K-State faced No. 1-seeded Auburn on Friday. The Tigers proved why they were the top seed in the tournament, taking K-State 15-1.

“The team had great energy and confidence today,” Maxwell said to K-State Sports on Friday. “I was proud of them for not giving up as the day went on, but rather enjoying the opportunity they had today at the National Championship.”

Lombardi aided the Wildcats in avoiding the shutout thanks to her performance in the Horsemanship discipline. K-State was down 8-0 going into the ride. Lombardi’s score of 152 was just enough to squeeze past Auburn’s Megan Ruth, who scored 150.5.

The Tigers swept K-State in Reining, Equitation over Fences and Equitation on the Flat.

K-State finished the season at 5-11. The season was marked with a string of successes, including 13 riders who placed on the Academic All-Big 12 Equestrian Team. Seniors Kara Guy, Hatton and Kemper combined for a record of 80-70-10 with nine Most Outstanding Performer honors.