Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
In recent years, Baylor has gained national notoriety for a number of sports. The Bears have had success in a lot of areas, but one that often goes unnoticed is Baylor equestrian.
Baylor checks in at No. 9 in the NCEA preseason rankings, right behind in state rivals TCU and Texas A&M, and head coach Casie Maxwell is anticipating watching her riders get back to competition.
“We’re looking forward to getting back in the competition arena,” said Maxwell. “We have a great mix of veteran and freshman talent, and we’re very excited to see how they perform together.”
As with everything this year, COVID-19 has affected how the team will have to operate. Baylor did not compete in the fall but did add nine freshmen riders to complete their 63-rider roster.
Baylor is also looking forward to getting back to the postseason. Many equestrian teams lost a good chunk of their postseason in 2020, but Maxwell felt her team was primed to make some noise.
“Last spring, we felt like our team was getting better each meet and we were excited to see how that would translate to the postseason,” Maxwell said. “Since our season was cut short, we’ve adjusted our focus to prepare as best we can to attack the spring 2021 schedule.”
Maxwell’s athletes are chomping at the bit to get back to competition, especially after losing the 2020 postseason and last fall.
“Obviously last year was really difficult,” said senior western rider Kacie Scharf. “I feel like our last meet in the spring … a lot of things clicked into place for this team. We were all just so excited and so ready to go into that postseason, Big 12s and nationals. To lose that was very heartbreaking, especially for our seniors.”
Joining Scharf on the Bears roster are returning NCE All-Americans Rachael Davis and Maddie Vorhies. Davis, a jumping seat rider, was a first team selection and Vorhies, also a jumping seat, garnered an honorable mention. That experience will be key for Baylor this season.
“We didn’t lose any showgirls last year,” Scharf said. “We’ve seen each other in action and we know what we’re all capable of. If anything, we’re deeper this year because we’ve got some new talent in … We had that consistency, and we’re ready to go show.”
Baylor’s 2021 schedule will feature a number of strong opponents, including No. 8 TCU, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 6 Fresno State, No. 5 SMU and No. 2 Oklahoma State. Should Baylor come out on top of those matchups, they’ll be set up very nicely for Big 12 championships in March, followed by NCEA championships in April. In an uncertain season, Scharf hopes this team is willing to lay it all on the line for a championship.
“A&M’s going to be tough, but we’re going to go out, and we’re going to go out swinging,” Scharf said.
Baylor will open their 2021 season against No. 7 A&M at 11 a.m. Saturday in College Station.