Jordan Smith | Sports Writer
The No. 5 Baylor equestrian team (1-0) hosts the ninth-annual Willis Invitational tournament this weekend. The tournament starts 10 a.m. today and will run through Sunday at the Willis Family Equestrian Center.
The Bears are looking to bounce back after a defeat given to them by the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday.
Head coach Ellen White said she was disappointed after veteran riders made rare mistakes.
“We took a couple of people over fences who had not competed before for us, and I think they did a good job. I think it was a little bit of nerves,” White said. “We had a couple of veterans in Savanah and Alicia that had mistakes. It was just a tight course, and so when the horses made little boo boo’s they couldn’t recover fast enough. This was the first time that we have done an away, on the road, sort of deal to open the season, and so I think they just sort of got in the deer in the headlights mode.”
Those competing at the tournament will be No. 9 Fresno State, No. 10 New Mexico State, and South Dakota State. There will be three individual head-to-head meets, as the Bears look to capture their ninth Willis Invitational Tournament title.
Sophomore hunter seat Sam Matthews said she is looking to improve as they head into their home opener this weekend.
“I just want to go out there and ride confidently and just really not hold anything back,” Matthews said. “Just lay it all down, and kind of come out of the ring knowing that there is nothing else that I could have done to put in a better performance.”
Junior hunter seat Rachel Van Allen said she appreciates that Baylor is getting the national recognition with the Bears being ranked the No. 5 equestrian team in the country.
“It’s awesome. I mean, all of the teams out there are so good really,” Van Allen said. “So, it really says a lot about our team and just the girls that we have. It’s exciting for sure. I think it’s a huge motivation for us to stay in the top group.”
Equestrian looks to get its first win under its belt this weekend starting at 10 a.m. Friday.