Jacks equestrian anticipate growth this coming year
South Dakota State equestrian heads into 2019-20 with a new-look coaching staff, a new conference, seven returning seniors and 16 new riders.
The team will be led by both Western coach Morgan DiGiulio and recently named Jumping Seat coach Marielle Golden. DiGiulio enters her second year with the program and headed the western team last year. Golden returns to the program as a familiar face in a new role having competed with the team for four years and graduating from SDSU in 2016. Previous head coach Ellie Wilkins stepped down following the 2018-19 season, ending four years at the helm.
The new season brings a new conference affiliation as well. The Jacks will now be a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) after previously competing in the United Equestrian Conference. The ECAC will also consist of UT Martin, SMU, UC Davis, Delaware State, Suny New Paltz and Sweet Briar.
The Jackrabbits will be tested with a tough schedule hosting only one regular season home meet, UC Davis on Feb. 22, along with two additional home scrimmage meets.
On the road, the Jacks will open the year at TCU, along with additional meets away from home against Oklahoma State, UT Martin, Delaware State, South Carolina, Sweet Briar, Texas A&M and Baylor.
Postseason competition will begin with the ECAC Championship March 26-28 before the NCEA National Championship April 15-18.
The 2018-19 season saw the team qualify for the NCEA National Championship for its third consecutive year, but fell in the first round of each discipline.
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, the 16 newcomers consist of seven new members of the Jumping Seat team and nine on the Western squad.
Of the returning seniors, the Jumping Seat team brings back Jessica Boesch, Claire Garduno, Sydney House and Jessica Martinez, while Jordan Gates, Emily Keiser and Rylee Streit return to the Western team.
SDSU’s mix of returning veterans and incoming talent creates an intriguing group that instills optimism as the Jackrabbits look to take another step into the postseason in 2019-20.
Riders to Watch
Claire Garduno | Sr.
Garduno is coming off of a season in which she was named an NCEA All-American Honorable Mention in Fences. She also earned All-Academic Honorable Mention and was named UEC Rider of the Week in Fences (3/4/19). The Minneapolis native went 5-3 over eight meets in Fences and 3-7 in 10 meets on the Flat.
Jessica Martinez | Sr.
After a 4-6 finish in Fences over 10 meets last season, the senior currently sits sixth in career wins at SDSU in the event with 14, seven wins behind the career record of 21 (Santana Wright, 2010-14). She is also nine meets away from surpassing Jordan Goodall’s career record of 42 meets competed in Fences (2011-15).
Hayley Kastrup | Jr.
In her first two years with the program, Kastrup rode in a pair of demos on the Flat. She’ll look to take the next step with the team in her junior season and play a bigger role with the Jacks. The Blair, Neb. native was named to the UEC and NCEA Academic Honor Roll in 2019.
Rachel Head | Fr.
Head will join the Jacks as an incoming freshman out of Houston, Texas with the potential to play an immediate role in 2019-20. She competed in the US Equestrian Federation, US Hunter Jumper Association and Texas Hunter Jumper Association from 2015-2019 and qualified for the USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Finals in 2017 and 2019.
Jordan Gates | Sr.
The senior currently ranks fourth all-time at SDSU in Horsemanship career wins with 13, seven shy of Kelsey Swainston (2013-17) who holds the record with 20 career wins. Gates went 4-5 in Horsemanship over nine meets last season and also competed in Reining.
Emily Keiser | Sr.
Keiser enters her senior year with only six rides under her belt, but is poised to make an impact on the Western team. Overall, she is 2-2-2 in Horsemanship in her career and will have the opportunity this year to significantly improve upon that.
Rylee Streit | Sr.
Another senior to watch on the Western team, Streit is 7-8-2 in Horsemanship over her career at SDSU. She also rode in eight meets in Reining last year, posting a 2-6 record but scoring a career high 71 against Auburn.
Jadyn Taylor | So.
Taylor rode in eight meets as a freshman in horsemanship, posting a career-high 74 against Auburn and competed in the 2019 NCEA Championship in April. The sophomore looks to take on a bigger role with the team this season.
The season gets underway Saturday with the annual Yellow and Blue Scrimmage beginning at 8:30 a.m. before the team’s first regular season matchup takes place Sept. 26 against TCU.
–SDSU Equestrian Team