Libby Collins could not bear to watch.
As her teammate Miranda Reed completed her final ride at Totusek Arena on Saturday, Collins had to look away. A senior competing for her final time at home, Reed started to cry. Collins, a junior, turned to face the opposite wall; she said if she hadn’t, she would have cried, too.
“Miranda’s always been like an older sister and just took me under her wing as soon as I got here freshman year,” Collins said.
Emotions ran high in the Oklahoma State equestrian team’s 15-4 victory against Fresno State, as the team celebrated the four members of its senior class.
At the intermission period between horsemanship — Collins' and Reed’s event —and equitation, the No. 2 Cowgirls presented Maggie Drysch, Jorden Davis, Jordan Langan and Reed with bouquets of orange and white flowers and a video tribute.
“It was a great day,” coach Larry Sanchez said. “It was a great day to recognize the seniors. Our seniors are so special to us in that they’re ‘lead by example’ kinda girls. We hate to see ’em go, but it sure was a great final meet to go out on, being able to beat Fresno here at home.”
As usual, the senior class came through in a big way against No. 6 Fresno State. Davis, a two-time All-American, earned points in both equitation events. A week after setting a career-high score, Reed tied Fresno State’s Taeya Harle at 75.5 to guarantee a win if the Cowgirls scored 10. And though she didn’t know, Drysch sealed the meet with a 76-74 victory against Madelyn Keck in equitation on the flat after a fences performance she wasn’t satisfied with.
“After my jumping round, it’s nice I could contribute that way, so that’s good,” Drysch said. “… I’ll take it.”
Drysch participated in the Senior Day festivities despite her plans to return next season. Although she will earn her undergraduate degree at the end of the semester, she will attend graduate school in the fall and will continue riding for the team after receiving a redshirt for her freshman season in which she did not compete.
“It just felt weird not doing with the girls I came in with,” Drysch said. “It just felt more right doing it this year, even though it’s technically not my last home meet.”
The Cowgirls’ (8-2) day got going early. The team announced Thursday they had moved up the start time from 10 a.m. to 8 a.m. to avoid inclement weather, which moved up the riders’ schedules two hours and forced the teams to compete using only the indoor arena. Drysch said by the time the meet had concluded about 2 in the afternoon, most of the team had been at the Cowgirl Equestrian Complex for almost 12 hours.
“It’s just a mental game since it’s such a long day,” Drysch said. “It’s pushing through. It’s hard.”
While frigid rain beat down on the roof of Totusek Arena, the Cowgirls beat down on Fresno State (7-6) inside.
OSU jumped out to a 4-1 lead after fences, highlighted by Carly Barrick’s outing; Barrick defeated Alex Dirickson 80-69 and earned Most Outstanding Performer honors for her efforts.
The Cowgirls then took horsemanship 4-0 behind Maddie Bender’s MOP showing for an 8-1 halftime advantage.
The equitation team opened the second half with 3-2 victory. Kendall Pedigo set her season-high score with an 88-84 victory against Kylina Chalack.
With the meet already spoken for, OSU’s reining team finished the day with a 3-2 win behind freshman Hannah Mitchell’s 71-69.5 victory against Hailey Robison, Mitchell's ninth straight win since an opening day loss in September. Mitchell also earned her fifth straight MOP award.
When the day came to a close, and the team headed on to its spring break, there was little besides the weather to complain about.
“I thought everybody rode really, really well,” Collins said. “It’s the best for horsemanship specifically that I’ve seen us all ride. The hunt team looked phenomenal. The reiners are always crazy talented, so everything went well.”