April 20, 2007
WACO, Texas - Baylor's equestrian team wrapped up action Friday afternoon finishing eighth overall after hosting the Varsity Equestrian National Championships April 18-20 at the Heart O' Texas Fair Complex. The Baylor Western team upset two highly seeded opponents to claim its best-ever fifth place finish while the English team finished in eighth place, matching its 2006 championship finish.
"I am so proud of our Western team. Our goal last year to was to be invited to the championships as a first-year program. This year we wanted to place and get a ribbon. And if you look at my roster, I have one junior, one sophomore and the rest are freshmen so it can only get better from here," said Western assistant coach Trista Armstrong.
Baylor's Western riders faced off against Kansas State in the fight for fifth place and split the first four points in the Horsemanship portion of the bracket. BU's Missy Gonzalez defeated her KSU competition posting a KSU show-high 147-point ride and Allison Orosz bested her opponent by half a point earning a 137.5-point ride.
With the show tied at twos, Baylor took control and blew out Kansas State 4-0 in Reining. Madelyn Mooney, Nicole McCoy, Amanda Graber and Valtie Riddle all tacked on points for Baylor as the Bears cruised into their program-best fifth place finish.
"Our Western team has really risen to the challenge and peaked at the perfect time. They rode so beautifully and I am so pleased and proud of them," said head coach Ellen White.
Baylor English team competed Friday against Fresno State for either a seventh or eighth place finish. The teams split all eight points, earning two each in both Fences and Flat events. On the Flat rides, Mary Smitson and Nicole Brown earned 146-point rides, enough to earn BU points.
Over Fences, Brown (161.5) once again prevailed for the Bears; her 81-point score from one of the two judges was the show high against Fresno State. Beth Banister also picked up a point over Fences as she tallied 154 points on her ride.
With the point score tied at 4-4, the officials went to the raw scores, dropping the lowest score for each team. Fresno State ended up with 1,051 raw points, narrowly outscoring Baylor by only three points as the Bears totaled to only 1,048 points.
"You know, we hung with Oklahoma State and we rode well against Georgia, only losing by such slim margins; and they were both in the top seeds. We lost some momentum with the initial loss to Georgia. But we're a young team; we're a tired team. We had lots of horses and issues to take care of hosting this year but it's great experience for next year," added White.
Baylor's second season concluded with an award ceremony recognizing the top six teams in each discipline. The Western team was honored for their fifth-place finish with a Varsity Equestrian National Championship medal. In the overall standings, Baylor equestrian placed eighth.
Baylor's program received additional awards for two now nationally recognized horses, Nic and Raymond. Nic, short for Diablonic, recently donated to Baylor by the Mooney family, was honored as the Outstanding Reining Horse, an award given by the National Reining Horse Association. Peponitas Reynes, a.k.a. Raymond, was voted by the VENC teams as the championships most valuable Reining horse in the tournament.
Baylor brings to a close its second season with even greater success than the first, placing in all three possible standings, fifth in Western, eighth in English and eighth overall.
Full 2007 Varsity Equestrian National Championship scores and news is available at http://baylorbears.cstv.com/sports/w-equest/spec-rel/032607aae.html.