Equestrian finishes third in Big 12 championship

The Bears took third place this weekend in the Big 12 Equestrian Championship. Christina Cannady | Photographer

By Marquis Cooley | Reporter

The fourth-seeded Baylor equestrian team (2-7) placed third in the Big 12 championship over the weekend at the Willis Family Equestrian Center in Waco to finish out the season.

Baylor opened the meet on Friday with a match against first-seed Oklahoma State in the semifinals, in which the Bears lost 12-8 to the conference champions.

The Bears entered the meet in search of its second win of the season, hoping to avenge two earlier regular-season losses to the Cowgirls (6-1). However, the Bears were unable to take advantage of a strong first half, and OSU ultimately pulled away late.

Starting off the day in Fences, junior Caroline Fuller scored the first point of the meet for Baylor with an 81-79 head-to-head victory. However, Baylor only mustered one other point via sophomore Savannah Hemby’s score of 157, as OSU took the event 3-2.

The Bears bounced back in Reining as sophomore Isabella Jacuzzi led the team with a score of 145. Juniors Madaline Callaway and Maggie Cincotta also picked up points for BU, leading Baylor to a 3-2 event win and tying the score at 5-5 at the midway point.

As Horsemanship kicked off the day’s second half, Baylor fell behind as the Cowgirls took a 4-1 victory. Sophomore Gabrielle Marty tallied BU’s only point, scoring a 140.5.

Flat rounded out the semifinal action as senior Rachael Davis tallied an event-best 163 total for her eighth straight win in the event this season. Fuller also picked up another point for the Bears with a score of 158, but once again OSU edged out the win 3-2 to prevent a late rally by the Bears.

Although the result wasn’t what the Bears had hoped for, head coach Casie Maxwell was pleased with the effort her team showed.

“We are very proud of how our team competed today,” Maxwell said. “It was a very tough loss, but they rode incredibly strong and confident and left it all in the arena. We could not have asked for anything more from them.”

On Saturday, Baylor was able to bounce back to end the season on a high note with a 13-7 win over two-seed Fresno State in a consolation match to place third overall in the Big 12 championship and avenge their 9-6 loss against Fresno State (5-5) from earlier this month.

Baylor opened up the match with a 3-2 win in Horsemanship led by Marty who was once again able to provide a point in the event for the Bears with an event-best score of 151. Johnson and sophomore Elsie Naruszewicz picked up the other two points in the event.

The Bears were able to increase their lead with a dominant performance in Fences. Fuller, Davis, Hemby and senior Gia Gulino were all able to score points, giving Baylor an impressive 4-1 win over the Bulldogs to give them a 7-3 lead heading into the half.

Baylor continued its day of impressive performances in Reining to kickoff the second half of the meet. Callaway and sophomore Andie Pratt both won points for the Bears with scores of 138. Jacuzzi scored the final point of the event and third for the Bears to give them a 3-2 edge over the Bulldogs.

The Bears finished up the match with the Flat. Davis was able to win a point with a score of 130 to finish the season with a perfect 9-0 record in the event. Gulino, with a score of 158, and sophomore Maddie Vorhies, with a score of 148, picked up two more points for the Bears to give them another 3-2 victory over the Bulldogs.

That wasn’t all for the Bears as after the meet it was announced Callaway, Davis and Hemby all earned Big 12 postseason awards.

“I’m very excited for them,” Maxwell said. “I’m very pleased at how consistent they’ve been in their events all year long. We’ve had a tough road schedule, so to see them have those kinds of records in order to earn these awards is really outstanding.”

Davis was named the Big 12 Flat Rider of the Year for the third time in her career and second year in a row. Baylor has now won six-consecutive Big 12 Flat Rider of the Year awards, dating back to Alicia Gasser in 2016.

Davis also earned her fourth-career All-Big 12 honor in the Flat, becoming the first Bear in program history to collect the accolade in all four years of her career.

“Rachael is outstanding,” Maxwell said. “She came off such an incredible junior season, so to come back and do that again this year is amazing. It’s a testament to her, her hard work and skill set. Her leadership has been tremendous, and the girls really look up to her, both in and out of the arena. We’re definitely very appreciative of her.”

Callaway earned her first All-Big 12 Reining spot after going 4-3 in 2021 with two MOP’s and the NCEA Reining Rider of the Month for January.

“Callaway has had a tough couple of horses dealt to her this year, and she stepped up to that challenge and adapted, so I think it’s really outstanding for her to earn this award,” Maxwell said. “She puts in a tremendous amount of work and is a true leader for our Reining squad and our team as a whole.”

To round out the conference honors for the Bears, Hemby was named to the All-Big 12 Fencing team for the first time in her career. Hemby led the Bears with a 5-1-1 record in Fences and earned four scores at or above 90 this season.

“Savannah, it’s only her second true semester of competition with the team. For her to come out as strong as she did this year, having lost the postseason opportunity last season, it’s just amazing,” said Maxwell. “She went off and trained hard over the summer to stay prepared for this season and is another one of those girls that has just been a great leader for us.”