As a a top-five showdown approached, coach Larry Sanchez and the Oklahoma State equestrian team knew Auburn would present a big challenge.
“Auburn is always a national title contender,” Sanchez said before the meet. “They’re well-coached and will always have a good team."
The Cowgirls had their bright moments but came up short in the end, as they fell to No. 5 Auburn 10-8 on Saturday.
It was OSU's (3-3 overall, 2-0 Big 12) first loss at home in eight matches dating to 2016.
“We had some very good rides today, and we had some that we hopefully will learn from,” Sanchez said. “We’re going to continue to focus on the things we have control of and continue to improve throughout the semester.”
The Cowgirls started slow and fell behind 4-1 in equitation over fences. Carly Barrick was the lone Cowgirl to get a point, defeating Alex Ladove 78-72. The victory improved Barrick’s record to 5-1 on the season in equitation over fences.
Coming into Saturday, one of OSU's strengths was in the horsemanship event. The Cowgirls came in ranked No. 4, but Auburn was not far behind at No. 5. The Tigers snatched horsemanship from OSU, 3-1. Harley Huff gained the point for the Cowgirls as she defeated Kara Kaufmann 76-75. Huff went on to win MOP for the horsemanship event, improving her record on the season to 5-0-1.
Entering the reining, OSU trailed 9-4 and had to sweep all five points from Auburn (3-3, 1-2) to tie the meet, which then would be decided via overall raw score.
The Cowgirls started the event strong with victories from Hannah Mitchell and Stephanie Helsen, whose success improved her record in the reigning to 6-0 on the season. Auburn earned only one point in reining from Betsy Brown, who defeated Danielle Cohen 69.5-68.5. That was all it needed for the 10-8 victory.
Julia Purus received MOP honors for the reining event.
“Although it wasn’t the outcome we had hoped for, I am so proud of how our team competed until the final ride,” Purus said. “We are ready to get back to work and are looking forward to our next meet.”
The Cowgirls will be in action again Feb. 16 in Fresno, California, against No. 6 Fresno State and No. 2 SMU.