By Marquis Cooley | Reporter
As the equestrian team gears up for Big 12 championships this weekend, some riders are preparing for what could be the last ride of their collegiate careers. Although the season hasn’t been as successful as many had hoped, the senior class has been a light in the dark as they’ve put together some great performances and made a huge impact on the team.
“It’s a really special group,” fourth-year head coach Casie Maxwell said. “This is the first group that I’m graduating out, that I’ve been with for all four years. They’ve left a huge impression on this team, and they’ve been through a lot. They’ve proved to be a resilient group full of good leaders for this team.”
Western rider Clara Johnson said their leadership stems from memories of what former senior classes did for them.
“A big memory is my sophomore year when we won Big 12’s,” Johnson said. “What that senior class did for us as underclassmen, we’ve tried to fill those shoes and be seniors who the underclassmen now look up to. We just hope to have the same impact that the seniors before us had.”
One way they’ve made an impact is using their experience to teach the underclassmen how to improve their patterns and get the most out of their horses. Senior jumping seat rider Rachael Davis has won numerous awards in the flat and is undefeated in the event this season. Davis said she’s enjoyed using that experience of success to be a mentor to the underclassmen in the event.
“I can tell them you should try doing this with this horse, or you should edit this part of your pattern, or you should try and show off a little bit more here,” Davis said. “They come to me for that advice because they know I’ve been successful and can help them to show off the best of their abilities.”
The underclassmen have definitely appreciated the help and leadership shown this season and made that known to the seniors on Senior Day.
“I’ve set up Senior Day every single year since I was a freshman,” senior jumping seat rider Gia Gulino said. “So walking in and seeing how the girls had decorated the locker room and done the flowers and gifts, it just made me feel really appreciated.”
It’s that sort of camaraderie among the equestrian team that Davis said the seniors are going to miss the most.
“You can count on 65 other girls to have your back no matter what,” Davis said. “That’s probably the thing I’ve most enjoyed about being here, having an entire family. And that’s something I never would’ve had without athletics.”