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Cowgirls upset No. 2 SMU at home

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Stephanie Helsen during the OSU vs SMU match at the Totusek Arena in Stillwater, February 16, 2018.

The Cowgirls are a different team at home.

In its third home meet of the season, the Oklahoma State equestrian team got back on track in a 13-7 upset victory against No.2 Southern Methodist Saturday at Totusek Arena.

By the end of the third event, equitation on the flat, the Cowgirls had a commanding 10-5 lead and needed only one more point to secure the victory.

The Cowgirls (3-5 overall, 1-2 Big 12) started strong, leading 4-1 after junior Emma Verplank defeated SMU’s Megan Waldron 75.5-74-5 in horsemanship. The lead was 7-3 going into on the flat.

“I think we finally pulled everyone’s best performance out," Verplank said. “Horsemanship in particular did really well. I thought that was some of the best riding we have done all year.”

This marks the second straight season where OSU upset a No. 2 team at home. Last season, the Cowgirls topped Texas A&M 10-8 at Totusek Arena.

“We know these girls have talent and have the ability to ride with the best teams in the country,” OSU coach Larry Sanchez said. “We were on the road a lot in the fall and fell a little short in most of those, so it’s good to be back in Stillwater."

Two of SMU’s (6-2, 2-0) riders, Jill Pfisthner and Savannah Ostner, received a score of 0 after being disqualified. If a horse backs more than two strides, it’s considered an added maneuver, thus causing a disqualification. Going into reining, OSU only needed one point to clinch a win. Despite the zeros from the SMU riders, the Cowgirls were still focused.

“We like to try to eliminate the things that we can’t control, and we can’t control how those girls ride our horses,” OSU horsemanship rider Maddie Bender said. “(Sanchez) made a point to make sure that we were riding our rides and were focused on what we can control, which is our ride.”

The Cowgirls will have a week to regroup before they saddle up against Big 12 opponent TCU Saturday at home.

For now, Sanchez is happy that his team has the momentum.

“I’m very proud of them,” Sanchez said. “They have taken it up to another level and that’s what I have challenged them to do and they rose to that occasion.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com