COLLEGE STATION, Texas - For the second straight competition senior Tara Hallan garnered MVP honors, but that individual effort was not enough to propel sixth-ranked K-State to victory as it dropped its matchup with No. 3 Texas A&M, 14-9, Friday afternoon at the Brazos County Expo Center.
K-State (4-4) got a good showing from its Hunter Seat squad which was able to ride the Aggies to a 6-6 tie. It was a banner day for some of the Wildcats' more inexperienced riders, as three freshmen picked up the first wins of their careers and two other riders notched their first victories on the season.
The Wildcats had one of their best showings of the season in Equitation Over Fences, splitting the discipline with Texas A&M, 3-3. A pair of freshmen stole the show for K-State as both Kali Yates and Kristen Rhinelander picked up the first varsity wins of their young careers in the discipline. Junior team captain Jen Rawle was also impressive, picking up her second victory of the season by riding past A&M's Lindsay Smith, 60-55.
The Hunter Seat squad's success continued in the Equitation on the Flat arena, where it also rode to a 3-3 draw with the Aggies. All three of K-State's points came from riders who notched their first victory of the season during Friday's contest. Freshman Larissa Laffey defeated A&M's Megan Webb, 80-78, to earn the first victory of her career. Sophomore Stephanie Patterson notched her first win of the season and the fourth win in her career by riding past Maggie Earle 74-72. Rounding out the points for the Wildcats was senior Ashley Collett who rode to victory in her first varsity action of the season.
"The team is coming together in a really exciting way," said associate head coach Gardner Powell. "I was thrilled with the freshmen today. The upperclassmen improved their performances, but we still didn't nail it down. At least we didn't beat ourselves today. I'm ready to go again, and I think the girls are ready for a straight-out win."
K-State couldn't build on the momentum gained in Hunter Seat as the Western squad had an uncharacteristic performance in the Western arena, where it was 5-2 coming into today before dropping an 8-3 decision to the Aggies.
The Wildcat Horsemanship squad suffered its first back-to-back losses of the season, falling 4-1 to the Aggies. Senior Laura Browne was a bright spot for K-State, picking up her fifth win of the season by riding past Katie Lisabeth, 73.5-69.5. Senior team captain Alyssa Freeman also rode to a 76.5-76.5 draw with Carey Nowack.
K-State's struggles continued in the Reining discipline, dropping a 4-2 decision to the Aggies. Hallan picked up MVP honors for the second straight competition, and the third time in her career, as she defeated the Aggies' Abigail Grabein, 73.5-68.5. Rounding out the points for the Wildcats was junior Alecia Zimbelman who rode past Tara Christiansen for a 71-69.5 victory.
"I always enjoy showing here at A&M, and today I had to wait all day for my turn," said Hallan. "I drew a horse that's a lot like my personal horse, so today was fun for me. Overall the team rode better on both sides today, and that's what we will build on for tomorrow."
The Wildcats will finish up their three-show road swing tomorrow when they travel to Waco, Texas, to take on the seventh-ranked Baylor Bears. Competition is set to get underway at the Willis Family Equestrian Center at 10 a.m. Results will be posted on k-statesports.com as they become available.