April 16, 2014
WACO, Texas - The Baylor Equestrian team plays host to 11 other schools this weekend for the NCEA National Championship at the Extraco Center. Baylor, the runner up in the Big 12, enters as the No. 6 seed and will face No. 11 seed UT Martin Thursday at 9:20 a.m.
This marks the eighth year that Baylor's athletic department in association with the City of Waco has played as host to a collegiate equestrian championship. The top 12 teams are invited to crown a national champion, and in 2014, for the first time only one champion will be named.
In past seasons, there was an overall, a western, and a hunter seat champion. Baylor took a hunter seat national title in 2012. With both disciplines combining for one national title, the teams must show balance in all four disciplines (flat, fences, horsemanship, reining) in order to take the title.
"We have a strong team, I really feel like you could take any of the top six teams that on any given day anyone could beat anyone. Oklahoma State is No. 2, and we lost to them by the narrowest margin you could lose in the Big 12 Championship," said Baylor head coach Ellen White. "We lost to Auburn by one ride in the regular season. It's absolutely doable for us to beat anyone. South Carolina, Auburn and Georgia have all traded out wins with each other, so anything can happen."
Baylor was seeded No. 6 after finishing the regular season with an 8-5 record and a 3-3 mark in the Big 12. The Lady Bears then defeated TCU in the opening round of the Big 12 championships before falling 10-9 to OSU.
No. 1 South Carolina, No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Auburn all have byes and will not compete Thursday. The winner of Baylor and UT Martin will face Georgia in the quarterfinals Friday.
Thursday in the opening round, No. 8 Fresno State and No. 9 TCU will compete to face South Carolina, No. 5 Kansas State and No. 12 Texas A&M square off with the winner facing Auburn, and No. 7 New Mexico State faces No. 10 SMU to see who advances to face Oklahoma State.
All quarterfinals meets will be resolved Friday with the semi-finals and the championship round taking place Saturday.
Last year, Baylor's western team lost in the opening round 5-3 against Auburn while the hunter seat team advanced to the semi-finals falling to Auburn, 5-3.
Admission is free and open to the public for fans in Waco, and the Extraco Center is located at 4601 Bosque Blvd.
Fans are encouraged to visit the NCEA Championship web page at http://www.baylorbears.com/ot/14NCEAChamps.html, which includes a live video stream link. In addition, fans are encouraged to follow the twitter feed @14NCEAChamps to get scoring updates throughout the championship