Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Every so often collegiate athletics is graced with prodigal talent.
Matt Barkley. Kevin Durant. Tiger Woods.
These phenoms had record-setting freshman campaigns in their respective sport, and the 2011-12 season saw similar results, this time on a different landscape.
Enter Katy Krshka, a fresh-faced 18-year old from Yukon, Oklahoma. Her specialty?
Riding a horse.
Krshka entered the collegiate atmosphere as one of the most sought after equestrian recruits in the nation. She boasts a stellar amateur career, finishing Top 3 in both categories at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Show last summer.
Oklahoma State head equestrian coach Larry Sanchez knew he had to have Krshka, a fellow Oklahoman, on his squad. She could be an immediate contributor on a program that lost several key seniors the previous year.
"Katy is from Yukon, Oklahoma so I got to watch her develop into the rider she is today," Sanchez said. "I knew that she would be great for our program and did what i could to keep her on Oklahoma. I was really looking forward to the start of her college career."
Krshka made her way to Stillwater in August and worked her way into the starting lineup, becoming an immediate contributor. She won her first event in the opening matchup of the season, helping the Cowgirls to a 13-10 victory over the Baylor Bears.
A tough fall season saw the Cowgirls drop to 2-4, but the Pokes rattled off ten-straight victories. During that span Krshka went 9-1 in horsemanship.
The freshman standout was the only Cowgirl to compete in both horsemanship and reining this season.
Krshka finished the regular season with a team-high 16 wins and five MVPs. She also led the team in winning percentage in horsemanship, prevailing in 82 percent of her head-to-head competitions.
Her accomplishments continued in the postseason as she helped the Pokes win their second Big 12 Championship in four years. She went 3-1 in the championship, including key wins in horsemanship against Kansas State in the finals and Texas A&M in the championship matchup.
Oklahoma State was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation and the Cowgirl western team entered the National Collegiate Equestrian Association National Championships as the second seed.
Krshka continued her dominance at the national championships, winning four head-to-head matchups to lead the Pokes to a berth in the western national finals.
She finished the season with 23 wins to lead the team. Her individual honors included First Team NCEA All-American, All-Big 12 and the November Big 12 and NCEA Rider of the Month.
"I could not be more proud of Katy's contribution to the team this year," Sanchez said. "It is rare to see a freshman have the success that she had. I look forward to the next three years."
She will compete in numerous amateur competitions this summer, including Stars and Stripes/The Big A in Conyers, GA and the American Quarter Horse Youth Association Built Ford Tough World Show in Oklahoma City.
"She is a very determined girl with an awesome work ethic and it really pays off," senior team member Rachel Houchin said. "
(She is) extremely humble for how well she does."
Krshka enters her sophomore campaign as a team leader and the Cowgirls will rely on her for her winning edge.
"I had a great season competing with my teammates and can't wait to defend our Big 12 title next year."
If history of freshman success is any indication, the Big 12 record books could soon be rewritten by one certain underclassman in Stillwater.