Western Squad Ends Banner Season
WACO, Texas - The Kansas State equestrian Western squad wrapped up the 2009-10 season with its best finish in school history, falling just short of a National Championship in a 6-2 defeat at the hands of Texas A&M Saturday at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships.
K-State's Reserve National Championship performance marked the highest finish by any squad in program history at the VENC, topping the 2007-08 Western squad that finished third at the VENC. Saturday afternoon's National Championship matchup with top-seeded Texas A&M marked the first time in school history that a squad had ridden for a national title.
"Today was one of the most memorable days of my life, and it's all because of the group of girls I get to work with," said head coach Casie Lisabeth. "They rode outstanding all week and really managed to peak as a team at the right time."
The Western squad finishes its season with a 10-8 record overall. The No. 6 seeded Wildcats won three contests in the span of two days to find themselves in the championship match, defeating No. 11 Delaware State, No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 10 South Carolina on the road to the final.
"I saw a new level of riding, teamwork, and support from this team and I am so proud of each and every one of them," said Lisabeth. "This group of riders is so talented and dedicated, I'm just honored that I get to be a part of their success. Congratulations to Texas A&M for a great run, they were a great team to play and their riders really put the pressure on us today."
The Aggies took control of the contest early, riding to a 4-0 sweep of the Horsemanship discipline despite several strong rides from the Wildcats. K-State would need to take all four points in the Reining discipline in order to force a tie-break.
Senior Tara Hallan picked up the first Wildcat point of the contest, riding past Texas A&M's Maggie Gratny, 141-139.5, to wrap up her K-State career with 27 total wins. Fellow senior Morgan Campbell picked up a second Wildcat point by defeating Randi Standly, 146-143, in her final ride. That was all the comeback the Wildcats could muster, however, as the contest ended in a 6-2 defeat to close out a remarkable season.
"Today was only icing on the cake for my time with this team," said Hallan. "I've never been a part of something with so much love and passion. To be a part of a Reserve National Championship team is one thing, but to have gained the memories and friendships is irreplaceable. This team is my family and it has literally been a great ride."