MANHATTAN, Kan. - For the first time in Big 12 Equestrian Championship history, the title match came down to a tiebreaker with Oklahoma State edging Texas A&M, 3329-3326, on Saturday at the Timbercreek Stables.
The two schools were deadlocked at eight points apiece after all four disciplines were contested, which required championship officials to calculate a raw score for both schools using the National Collegiate Equestrian Association tiebreaking procedures.
After the raw score calculation, the Cowgirls came out on top by the slimmest of margins to claim their second Big 12 title in the last four years. OSU last won the crown in 2009 with an 11-5 victory over Baylor in Stillwater, Okla.
Top-seeded Oklahoma State (10-4) opened the day with a 3-1 win in the Equitation over Fences discipline. No. 2 seed Texas A&M (10-5) responded right back with a 3-1 victory of its own in Equitation on the Flat. As that event was wrapping up in the indoor arena, the two schools split the Horsemanship event, 2-2, in the outdoor arena to knot the match at six points apiece heading into reining.
In reining, the Cowgirls opened with victories by Christy McElreath and Katy Krshka to setup a must-win ride by Texas A&M’s Abigal Grabein. The senior delivered with a score of 143 to edge OSU’s Jenna Blumer by a single point. In the final ride of the match Big 12 Reining Rider of the Year Caroline Daniels of Oklahoma State had an opportunity to seal the Cowgirls win, but her ride netted only 132.5 points to fall short versus TAMU’s Lindsey Bernbaum. The late Aggie victories meant that reining ended in a 2-2 tie and the match overall finished in the 8-8 tie.
The Championship final victory gave Oklahoma State revenge for last season’s 11-4 loss to Texas A&M in the Big 12 title match in College Station, Texas. The Cowgirls are now 6-2 all-time in Big 12 Championship play.
In the third-place match, No. 4 seed Kansas State pulled out a 10-6 win over third-seeded Baylor. The victory gave K- State its highest finish at the Big 12 Championship, while Baylor failed to win a match at the event for the first time.
The Wildcats (6-8) and Bears (10-6) were knotted at six points as well heading into reining, but in that discipline Kansas State elevated its play to take all four of the rides to claim the four point win.
Following the competition, the All-Big 12 team and regular season award winners were recognized. For their efforts during the championship four riders were honored by the judges as Most Outstanding Performers. The MOP award winners were Baylor’s Samantha Schaefer (Equitation over Fences), Oklahoma State’s Samantha Harrison (Equitation on the Flat), Baylor’s Parris Rice (Horsemanship) and Kansas State’s Sam Etsell (Reining).
The Big 12’s equestrian teams will next be in action at the NCEA National Championship in Waco, Texas on April 12-14.