Video by Meredith Aldis | Broadcast Intern, Article by Jakob Brandenburg | Reporter
The Baylor equestrian team won the Big 12 Equestrian Championship this weekend at Baylor’s Willis Family Equestrian Center as they defeated TCU on Friday and Oklahoma State on Saturday.
The two-day, round-robin tournament featured the second-and third-ranked teams in the country in Oklahoma State and Baylor, respectively. The Bears edged out the Horned Frogs 10-9 on the first day to set up a winner-take-all matchup with the Cowgirls. Baylor started strong in the contest against OSU on its way to an 11-7 win and the conference championship. This is the second Big 12 Championship in the last three years for head coach Ellen White’s Bears. Baylor also won the title in 2010.
Following the victory celebration, White described what it was like to win the championship again.
“It takes a lot of things to come together just right to make a championship team,” White said. “So when it all fits together, it’s a sweet win.”
In the first round against TCU, the Bears opened a 6-4 lead on the Horned Frogs in equitation over fences and reining, with 3-2 wins in both events.
Savannah Jenkins, Kelsie Brittan and Shannon Hogue all scored points for the Bears in fences, while Ginger Chant, Elizabeth Shank and Charlotte Green earned points in reining.
After withstanding rain and lightning delays on Friday, the teams resumed the competition with equitation on the flat and horsemanship. Baylor scored a 3-2 edge on flat, but TCU crept back into the contest with a 3-1 win in horsemanship.
On the final ride of horsemanship, sophomore Kaylee Mellott forced a tie that clinched the 10-9 Baylor win. Aspen Crew scored the Bears’ lone point in that event, while Jenkins, Samantha Howell and Rachel Van Allen scored the three points in flat.
On Saturday, No. 3 Baylor faced off against No. 2 Oklahoma State. The teams split their two meetings earlier this season.
Baylor got off to another fast start and grabbed 3-2 wins in both fences and horsemanship. Alicia Gasser, Gabby Conte and Hogue earned points in fences, while Mellott, Green and Kelsie Holman scored three horsemanship points.
Following the break, Baylor suffered its only event loss of the round when OSU won reining 3-0 with two ties. However, Baylor clinched the title by dominating the Cowgirls 5-0 on flat. Jenkins, Gasser, Van Allen, Howell and Brittney Mirkov were responsible for the shut out.
Jenkins, a senior, discussed the team effort that earned the conference championship.
“All four events really came out well today,” Jenkins said. “We lost my freshman year to OSU here, so we were not going to let that happen again, and everybody really stepped it up today.”
Jenkins won Big 12 Equitation on the Flat Rider of the Year and was one of seven Baylor riders named to the All-Big 12 team.
Next up for the Big 12 champion Bears is the National Collegiate Equestrian Association Championship.
Coach White explained why she is feeling confident heading into the national tournament.
“Because we’re that good,” White said “There’s so many variables that make it happen for you, but if all things come together for us, we absolutely have the team to win a national championship.”
The NCEA Championship will be held April 12-15 and hosted by Baylor at the Extraco Events Center in Waco.