May 16, 2011
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Senior Alecia Zimbelman captured two awards, including Western squad MVP and Western squad Most Outstanding Senior at the 2011 Kansas State equestrian year-end banquet.
Along with Zimbelman, junior Stephanie Patterson also took home two awards, including Hunter Seat MVP honors, as well as Hunter Seat Most Outstanding Junior honors.
“I am so proud of the dedication, passion, and progression our athletes have made this season,” said K-State head coach Casie Lisabeth. “They work so hard every day and the year end banquet is a chance for us to really recognize them for their success in and out of the arena. The success of our team relies heavily on every athlete on the roster and without them we would not be able to operate and succeed.”
A St. Francis, Kan., native, Zimbelman was one of the most successful riders on the team as she capped off her senior year by picking up two wins and a match-MVP award at the 2011 Big 12 Championships to go along with two wins at the Varsity Equestrian National Championship (VENC). For the second-consecutive year, Zimbelman helped the Western squad to its second straight Reserve National Champion finish at the VENC.
Patterson, who finished the 2010-11 season with three match-MVP awards, was one of the most consistent riders on the English squad as she notched a total of eight wins, including a victory over her Baylor counterpart in the Consolation match of the 2011 Big 12 Championships.
Senior Jen Rawle and freshman Emily Stockford were also the recipients of two awards on the night. Rawle carded Weightlifter of the Year honors, as well as Hunter Seat Most Outstanding Senior accolades.
Stockford received the award for Most Improved in strength and conditioning, as well as the Western squad’s Workhorse Award, which is given to an individual who has put in countless hours in the saddle and who is always looking for ways to become stronger in the practice pen, as well as the competition arena.
Freshmen Kelly Bovaird and Rachel Webster received Most Outstanding Freshman honors in Western and Hunter Seat, respectively. Bovaird was arguably the most successful rider on the Wildcat roster as she ended 2011 with a team-high 12 wins, which included three match-MVP awards. Bovaird was a crucial piece in the Western squad’s run to the National Championship match at the 2011 VENC. She bested her counterparts from UT-Martin, Oklahoma State and Auburn in the first three rounds of the National Championship tournament.
With a total of five wins and two match-MVP awards, Webster also saw her share of successes during the season.
Western rider Sam Etsell and English rider Larissa Laffey notched Most Outstanding Sophomore honors for their efforts during their second year at K-State. Etsell was dominate down the stretch as she won seven out of eight matches to close out the season. This streak included two wins at the 2011 Big 12 Championships and three wins at the 2011 VENC.
Laffey was one of a handful of English riders to compete in both Equitation Over Fences and Equitation on the Flat during the 2010-11 season. The Byfield, Mass., native ended the year with nine wins and two match-MVP awards.
Joining Patterson for Most Outstanding Junior honors was Alayna Warner on the Western team. She ended the season with five wins, including two wins at the 2011 VENC.
Freshman Alison Tozier and sophomore Melanie Hinzpeter were the recipients of the Most Improved award for 2011. This award is given to the riders who have made a dramatic improvement throughout the season.
Sarah Mershon took home the Workhorse Award on the Hunter Seat side. The Flower Mound, Texas product ended the year with four wins, including two match-MVP awards.
Winning the Purple Pride Award, which is awarded to the student-athletes who show endless dedication to Kansas State and the Wildcat equestrian program, were freshman Western rider Whitney Unkefer and sophomore English rider Paige Lechtenberg.
Unkefer was one of a handful of freshman riders who had a major impact in their first year at K-State. The Pleasant Valley, Mo., native closed out 2011 with five wins. Lechtenberg, a product of Oakland, Neb., picked up one win in exhibition action on the year.
The varsity letters were also handed out during the banquet, as riders on the K-State equestrian team must meet two requirements in order to receive a letter. The requirements include being in good academic standing and competing in at least seven varsity competitions while winning at least half of those matches.
Letter-winners for the Western squad for the 2010-11 season were freshmen Bovaird, Jordan Cox, and Rachel Wetherell, sophomores Unkefer, Etsell and Hannah Ribera and senior Zimbelman.
Letter-winners for the Hunter Seat team for the 2010-11 season were freshman Jacquelyn Bogstad, Laffey and Patterson.
Also selected at the Awards Banquet were the team captains for the upcoming 2011-12 season. Senior-to-be Patterson and Etsell, Ribera and junior-to-be Kali Yates were designated to be the leaders for next season’s Wildcat equestrian squad.
K-State ended the 2011-12 season with an regular season record of 5-7, but finished the post-season on a high note, taking home fourth-place honors at the 2011 Big 12 Championships. For the second season in a row, the Western squad took home Reserve National Champion honors at the VENC. The Wildcats entered the tournament as the eight seed but made an improbable run though the first three rounds by knocking off Tennessee-Martin and national powers Oklahoma State and Auburn, before falling to eventual national champion, Texas A&M.
– k-statesports.com –