Equestrian strives for stable start

Marcus Traxler

A new coach and a new attitude have riders turning the page in 2011-12.

In equestrian, stability is key. As it turns out, the same can be said for a program trying to grow.

After two seasons of turnover, the Jackrabbits have a coach, Megan Rossiter, who looks ready to steady things for SDSU, who dropped a home dual to UT-Martin on a tiebreak after riding with the Skyhawks to a 8-8 tie.

The biggest change from the previous coaching staff: attitude.

“We have a much more positive atmosphere and things are a lot more laid back,” senior Western rider Amy Mandelke said. “She’s definitely very positive and she treats us like we’re one of the best riders and she will pick you up if you have a bad day.”

SDSU scored five of their eight points on the day in the Western half of the meet. Kelsey Champagne took the top score in the horsemanship event with a 72.5 and Maggie Holzworth scored in both the horsemanship and reining events and Hillery Baysinger and Helen Lauth each pulled in a point.

The Jacks had less success in the Hunt Seat event, with UT-Martin scoring five points tie the meet. Megan Violand was the MVP in the equitation event and Meredith Sauer and Victoria Pecak scored but UT-Martin came away with the advantage on the Hunt Seat side. Because of the tie, the meet was decided on totals of the two disciplines and the Skyhawks had the higher cumulative competition score.

For the first home meet of the season, the team was pleased with how things have started for the Jackrabbits.

“We’ve definitely all pitched in. We’re all close anyway, so that hasn’t changed a whole lot but we’ve just bonded a lot more,” Mandelke said.

Megan McGee was the head equestrian coach at SDSU until 2009, when she was let go and interim coach Joe Humphrey was not retained when the season ended last year. Rossiter, who has experience coaching college equestrian at Oklahoma State, jumped at the chance to get back into collegiate equestrian.

“I was training horses in Colorado and my plan was to get back into coaching at some point, so I as waiting for a position to open up,” Rossiter told The Collegian earlier this year. “A great position opened at SDSU and eventually I was hired.”

Changes have been made to the amount of practice, with most of the team riding five days a week instead of as little as two times a week in the past, a sure sign that things are a little more serious now.

“They are more stern and serious and they are pushing us because they know that we have the talent and we can win,” Pecak said, a senior Hunt Seat rider.

A string of home meets at the DeHaan Center continues with Auburn and Delaware State each facing the Jackrabbits over Hobo Day weekend.

“It’s been different but it’s been all positive changes. The coaches have been expecting a lot more out of us and we’ve been giving it to them,” Pecak said.