By Darrell Harris | Sports Writer
For the fourth time in program history, Baylor equestrian (9-2, 3-1 Big 12) is ranked No. 1 in the nation, and they proved why again on Saturday afternoon.
The Bears followed an impressive win over previous No. 4 Georgia (5-4, 2-2 SEC) with an even more dominant win against the current No. 4 team, Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1 Big 12). The Bears outperformed the Cowgirls in every competition on Saturday en route to a convincing 15-4 final score. This win avenges one of the two losses on Baylor’s record. Earlier in the season, on Oct. 22, the Bears lost to the Cowgirls by a score of 12-8 in Stillwater, Okla. Baylor remains undefeated at the Willis Family Equestrian Center where they are 8-0 this season and have won 26-straight matches during the regular season.
Perhaps a reason for why the Bears are undefeated at home is because they get to use the horses they regularly practice with.
“There’s a serious home field advantage in that,” said head coach Ellen White about the benefit that comes with using their own horses. That added familiarity likely contributed to the well-rounded performance by the Bears.
It was a complete team effort in Saturday’s win with more than 10 different riders securing points for Baylor. Senior Hunt Seat rider Alicia Gasser paced the Bears in equitation over fences where she earned most outstanding performance (MOP) after her high score of 78. The group of hunt seat riders Gasser, senior Savannah Jenkins, sophomore Kelsie Brittan and junior Rachel Van Allen all scored for the Bears. This gave Baylor a lead they would never relinquish.
Meanwhile, outdoors in the western arena, reining provided what would be the most competitive event of the afternoon. Baylor edged out Oklahoma State 3-2, however, the Bears only won on the judges’ scoresheet by a final tally of 322.5-321.
After the break, Baylor continued its dominance with victories in equitation on the flat and horsemanship. The Bears displayed excellence on the flat with an average score of their six riders being an 83.6 opposed to merely a 74.5 average by the Cowgirls. On the contrary, the scoresheet was relatively close for horsemanship, although the Bears managed a 4-2 victory in the event which capped off their 15-4 victory.
Their performance on the flat particularly left the crowd in attendance with little doubt of who the superior team was on this day.
“There was no chance Oklahoma could come back in the second half after how well Baylor did on the flat,” said Houston freshman Mary Sansone. “Horsemanship just sealed off a good overall day for the team.”
The Bears have jumped out to a red-hot start to the spring portion of the season. Their win against another top five team validated why they jumped Texas A&M (6-2, 2-1 SEC) in this week’s rankings. Up next on the schedule, the Bears will have two weeks to prepare before they compete in the Fresno Invitational Feb 17 and 18 in Fresno, Calif. This will provide a valuable opportunity to showcase their talent if they can come away with wins against two non-conference opponents.