By Michael Haag | Sports Editor
Nearly two weeks after dropping a heartbreaker to then-No. 7 Oklahoma State University, 10-9, at home, No. 8 Baylor equestrian came within two points of knocking off No. 1 Southern Methodist University in Waco.
The Bears fell 10-8 Thursday afternoon at the Willis Family Equestrian Center despite winning seven of the 10 second-half points to rally back from a 7-1 deficit. Baylor’s (5-7, 2-3 Big 12) loss came on Senior Day, honoring 18 fourth and fifth-year seniors at the final home meet of the season.
“We were tested again in all four events, and I hated that it came down to the second half, but I appreciate the fight and the resilience that this team has shown,” head coach Casie Maxwell said. “I just keep going back to how I know we’ll get it together across the board, and that day is coming for sure. But I thought our team was really strong today. We were pretty minimal in our mistakes and really strong in a lot of places. I’m very proud of them.”
Maxwell added that this senior class means a lot to her.
“It’s been a great ride with these ones, and we’ve been through a lot with this class,” Maxwell said. “It’s a pretty special group to my heart, and we have six super-seniors who got to stick it out and stay for an extra bonus year. I just really appreciate all of them. They’ve left a big mark on this program. They’ve set the bar really, really high, so it’s going to be hard to follow.”
Jumping Seat senior Maddie Vorhies recorded an 87 in Flat to claim her first Most Outstanding Performer award of the year, and Reining senior Andie Pratt scored a 74 to help secure her second MOP of the season.
Vorhies hasn’t lost in seven of her last eight Flat rides. Collectively, Baylor’s Flat squad picked up its seventh event win in a row. When Vorhies was given the chance to reflect on her time at Baylor, she said it changed who she is as a person.
“It was an unreal experience, just so much fun to have everybody right behind me,” Vorhies said. “I honestly don’t know how to describe it; it was so exciting. [Being a Bear] has honestly been one of the greatest privileges of my entire life. The institution itself is absolutely incredible. The team has been unreal. Baylor really shaped me into the person I am today.”
Pratt echoed Vorhies’ sentiment in that she was grateful to have one last ride in Waco on Thursday.
“It was just really exciting to be surrounded by my teammates here at home one last time, to get to ride in the outdoor one last time,” Pratt said. “It was very sad, but I’m excited for the future of this team and am looking forward to the postseason.”
Thursday’s contest was moved up to 11 a.m. due to inclement weather, and the match didn’t start on time due to a short lightning delay. As a result of the weather, action began with Fences and Horsemanship simultaneously. The Mustangs (9-1) rushed out to a 7-1 edge following its 3-0 sweep in Fences and a dominant 4-1 victory in Horsemanship.
The only point the Bears got was from Western sophomore Alexis Rutledge, who garnered a 74 on Nona, while Jumping Seat freshman Lauren Jorgensen tied her opponent with an 85. Jumping Seat freshman Lauren Reid mirrored Jorgensen, as Reid tied her matchup with an 82.
Coming out of the halftime break, Baylor got a quick 4-1 win in Flat. Jumping Seat senior Dominika Silvestri’s 70, Jumping Seat junior Madison Mitchell’s 74, Jumping Seat sophomore Molly Canfield’s 76 and Vorhies’ 87 all cashed in points on the board. Baylor then narrowly edged SMU in Reining, 3-2, with the points coming from Western junior Shelby Clausen (70), Western senior Daisy Kaufman (72) and Pratt (74).
Silvestri improved to 10-2 on the year in Flat, becoming the first Bear to reach 10 wins in any event this season.
The Mustangs won their only two Reining tallies by a half point each, and they escaped with the two-point win, 10-8.
Baylor will gear up for a quick trip north to face No. 3 Texas Christian University at 10 a.m. Saturday at Bear Creek Farms in Fort Worth.