By Jessika Harkay | Sports Writer
At home hosting the 11th annual Willis Invitational, No. 8 Baylor equestrian bounced back after a slow start to the season, sweeping Delaware State (12-3) and UC Davis (14-2).
Last week the Bears traveled to Dallas to face No.5 Southern Methodist. The team struggled to keep up with SMU, falling to the Mustangs 14-5.
To open their second meet of the season, Baylor matched up against Delaware State on Friday, securing a 12-3 victory to open the home matches. Saturday morning the Bears faced UC Davis in a dominant 14-2 performance. Head coach Casie Maxwell said that clinching the two wins this weekend gave the team the opportunity to rebuild confidence.
“You’re in your home arena, on your home horses, in your home environment with your whole team standing behind you,” Maxwell said. “It’s really nice for us to be able to come home and build that confidence, work on those small things that we made mistakes on when we were at SMU […] Just to build on those performances today and lay down some solid rides and give some of our younger athletes a lot more experience.”
The tournament sweep marked Baylor’s 11th Willis Invitational title, staying perfect in the meet. Outscoring their opponents 26-5, the Bears mainly dominated in the flat event, achieving an 8-0 record against both DSU and UCD.
On Friday, seniors Madison Day and Grace Thiel, junior Rachael Davis and sophomore Caroline Fueller claimed the flat event, led by Day with a score of 82. Continuing into Saturday, the only change in the line up was junior Carlone Weaver in place of Day. Thiel led the event on the second day with a 83.
In fences, freshman Maddie Vorhies led the two matchups with a 85 against the Hornets and 87 against the Aggies. For both meets, the Bears took reining 3-1, and in horsemanship, the Bears struggled a little staying close to Delaware State 2-1 but sweeping UC Davis 4-0.
Regardless of a successful weekend, Maxwell said that there were points of concern the team has to improve going forward.
“We want to be pushing our performances harder and be a lot more aggressive in our rides, so we’ve got to minimize those mistakes,” Maxwell said. “That’s got to be the first thing we do is to eliminate those small errors so that we can just getting better every day.”
The Bears have the opportunity to show those improvements as they travel to Stillwater, Okla. to face Oklahoma State in their first Big 12 meet Friday.