Even with back-to-back losses, Oklahoma State equestrian coach Larry Sanchez has increasingly learned about his team.
After enduring a strenuous road trip last weekend, the Cowgirls will look to get back in the win column when they face No. 6 TCU at 10 a.m. Friday in Fort Worth, Texas.
This is No. 8 OSU’s third straight road meet against a ranked opponent after last weekend’s road losses against No. 1 Auburn and No. 7 Georgia.
The Cowgirls (1-3 overall, 1-0 Big 12) have won nine of their last 10 meetings against TCU.
But the last time OSU faced TCU (1-2, 0-1) was in the first round of the National Collegiate Equestrian Association national championships, in which the Horned Frogs defeated the Cowgirls 10-5.
“This is kind of a grueling stretch, but it will also bring out the character of this team,” Sanchez said. “That is the thing I always challenge them with. You only get as tough as your toughest competition.”
OSU will not lack star power going into this Big 12 matchup. Abigail Brayman and Hannah Mitchell were awarded NCEA Rider of the Month honors in October. Brayman, a sophomore, won the EquiFit Equitation Over Fences Rider of the Month award after stockpiling scores of 90, 85 and 80. Those scores extended her nine-month streak of not scoring below 80.
Regardless of who the Cowgirls are facing, Brayman is ready for whatever challenge lies ahead of her.
“I get really excited when we go against big teams like that,” Brayman said. “TCU is pretty good as well, so hopefully I get in that same mindset where I just want to beat that team.”
Mitchell, a team captain, won Shorty’s Reining Rider of the Month award. Mitchell is 3-0 on the season.
“Hannah is everything that I’d want in a team captain,” Sanchez said. “She’s a hard worker, and she’s always got a great attitude. For her to be as successful as she is in the arena only makes it that much more special.”
Although the Cowgirls are winless on the road, Sanchez said he sees that a loss is more telling than a victory, and he has attached something positive to every meet.
“I’m probably more so impressed than I was before this grueling stretch that we had,” Sanchez said. “I think by the end of the season, we are really going to know what this team is about, and I can foresee that being really good things.”