By Michael Haag | Sports Editor
No. 8 Baylor equestrian could’ve thrown in the towel when it trailed No. 7 Oklahoma State University 7-2 at the half, but the squad had other ideas. The Bears went on a second-half rally and came up just short, 10-9, Saturday afternoon at the Willis Family Equestrian Center.
“I think the big takeaway today is that they didn’t get down on themselves in the first half when the score deficit was so rough,” head coach Casie Maxwell said. “Flat made a huge rally coming in there and getting the score much closer, and then Reining fought until the very end. So, I have to give it to them for pulling it within one point.”
The Bears (5-6, 2-3 Big 12) were led by junior jumping seat rider Madison Mitchell, who recorded a program-record 94 in Flat. Mitchell’s outing resulted in her earning her second Most Outstanding Performer award of the season. The senior pairing of Dominika Silvestri and Maddie Vorhies each scored 92s in Flat to tie for the team’s second-highest score in the event this year.
Mitchell said she came in with the right mindset to propel her to a record-breaking day.
“I think everyone was in a space like, ‘We need to get this done and it has to go this way,’ and I think everyone kind of just fed off each other’s confidence,” Mitchell said. “I went in there telling myself this is going to be the best ride ever and I’m going to do this and it’s going to be amazing. I did it and it felt really good.”
Maddie Vorhies’ 92 in Flat marked a career high, extending her unbeaten streak in the event to six.
The Cowgirls (4-3, 3-1 Big 12) opened Saturday’s contest with a 4-1 win in Fences along with a 3-1 victory in Horsemanship. Maddie Vorhies notched the lone point on the Jumping Seat side with an 80 on Puzzle, while senior Western rider Gabrielle Marty secured a 76.5 score in the Western arena for the Bears’ sole point of the event.
Following Western, Baylor found a 4-1 win in Flat to start the second half. Sophomore Jumping Seat rider Annie Vorhies (89), Maddie Vorhies (92), Silvestri (92) and Mitchell (94) all claimed tallies for the Bears to cut their deficit to 8-6.
Reining closed out Saturday’s match as senior Western rider Daisy Kaufman (69.5), fifth-year senior Madaline Callaway (67.5) and junior Western rider Shelby Clausen (66) each scored points for Baylor.
The comeback fell just short, though, as OSU clung to its 10-9 win.
“It really stinks to lose by just one point, but moving forward we know that we are not playing against any easier caliber teams,” Maxwell said. “Oklahoma State is an incredibly deep team and we had to be better in the first two events to pull this off today and that’s what we’ll need to do at the Big 12 and National Championship.”
Up next, the Bears will host No. 1 Southern Methodist University on March 2 at the Willis Family Equestrian Center in Waco for Baylor’s Senior Day meet. The opening ride is scheduled for 1 p.m.
“We did not ride our cleanest in any of the four events today, but they did not either, so it was a pretty equal-caliber competition,” Maxwell said. “It’s just going to keep continuing and getting tougher, so we have got to keep cleaning up those mistakes and if someone is having an off day, we have to build up and capitalize from that and not match them with equal mistakes on our end.”