By Caroline Lindstrom
The Baylor equestrian team kicks off the NCEA National Championships as the No. 6 seed, today through Saturday at the Extraco Events Coliseum in Waco.
“I think if you take the top six teams, you could throw them up in the air and they would land differently any day,” head coach Ellen White said. “So can Baylor do it, but it has to be all put together at the right time.”
This championship includes the top 12 overall NCEA teams, and for the first time will be determined by a combined score of the hunter seat and western disciplines.
Previous national titles were awarded to the winners of both the hunter seat and western disciplines. Baylor took home the national title in 2011 for the hunter seat.
“I really like it with the two combined because it will bring the two teams together, and help with unity and camaraderie,” first team All-American senior Bryn Lindley said.
White said it will be nice to have both scores combined because that is normal for the team.
The Bears will first take on the No. 11 seed, Tennessee-Martin, who they beat 11-5 earlier this season. The winner of this matchup will face No. 3 Georgia.
“We beat them handily in the beginning of the season, but they have had all season to practice and this is championships so anything can happen,” White said.
She said every team has one side that is more dominant than the other. She said the goal is to be more strong than they are weak on both sides of the team.
“I think we can really do it because we definitely have the talent and team spirit to get a national championship,” Lindley said.
No. 1 South Carolina, No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Auburn have byes and will not compete today.
The winner of Baylor and UT Martin will face Georgia in the quarterfinals Friday.
Today, No. 8 Fresno State and No. 9 TCU will compete to face South Carolina, No. 5 Kansas State and No. 12 Texas A&M square off with the winner facing Auburn, and No. 7 New Mexico State faces No. 10 SMU to see who advances to face Oklahoma State.
All quarterfinals meets will be held today, with the semi-finals and the championship round taking place Saturday.
“I think we can be ranked No. 1 coming out of this and that’s all I really care about, so I don’t really care how we are ranked going into it,” White said.
Admission is free and open to the public, and the Extraco Events Center is located at 4601 Bosque Blvd.