April 16, 2011
WACO, Texas - The Kansas State equestrian Western team's run through the 2011 Varsity Equestrian National Championships came to a close Saturday as the Wildcats fell just short of a national title following a tough 5-3 setback to top-ranked Texas A&M. K-State's Reserve National Championship marked the second straight for the Western squad, while the Wildcats finished fourth overall as a team at this weekend's VENC.
"This has been an unbelievable experience having the chance to make it into the final round at Nationals for two years in a row," said Wildcat head coach Casie Lisabeth. I am so proud of this team for working so hard and being patient in their progress through the regular season because they definitely peaked at the right time. They have been so humble through this show and really kept their focus in the moment which is a real challenge especially with seven of our eight competitors performing here for the first time."
Saturday's Reserve National Championship tied for the highest finish in school history for K-State, matching last season's performance for the Western squad at the 2010 VENC - also against top-ranked Texas A&M.
Kansas State, which came into the tournament as the seventh seed, advanced to Saturday's championship dual against A&M by capturing three victories in two days with wins over 10th-seeded UT-Martin, second-seeded Oklahoma State and third-seeded Auburn.
In Horsemanship, K-State got off to a rough start by falling to the Aggies, 3-1. Wildcat sophomore Hannah Ribera picked up the lone win for her squad by walloping A&M's Amanda Brightwell, 151.5-139. Saturday's win marks Ribera's fourth win of the weekend and her 10th overall win of the year.
On the Reining side, sophomore Sam Etsell continued her terrific late-season run by besting Randi Standley of Texas A&M, 144.5-141.5. Since February 26, Etsell has won seven out of eight matches, including three out of four at this weekend's National Championships. Tallying the second and final point of the discipline was freshman Jordan Cox, who slipped past A&M rider Abigail Grabein, 143.5-143. Like Etsell, Cox went three-for-four this weekend in Waco.
"We have big plans for the future and plan to really build on this experience for the rest of their collegiate careers," said Lisabeth. "I also really want to congratulate Texas A&M for such great performances today. Their riders and coaches are amazing and we have so much respect for them. We love playing them and to play them twice for the National Championship has been a great experience."
- k-statesports.com -