The Year of the Bear continues to roll on — even into sports you might not realize Baylor participates in.
Saturday night — less than two weeks after Baylor women’s basketball won the NCAA tournament — the Baylor equestrian program brought home another national title. Head coach Ellen White’s Hunter Seat team narrowly defeated Texas A&M to claim the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) national title in that event. (See photos here.)
Equestrian teams are split into two squads, Hunter Seat and Western, much like track and field are combined together. It was fun to see each Baylor squad support the other; as the Waco Tribune-Herald described the scene, when the final scores were announced, “a mess of BU teammates wearing riding shirts, team polos and Baylor Line jerseys made a beeline for the gate, mobbing the Hunter Seat riders and celebrating a national title.”
Equestrian is classified as an NCAA “emerging sport,” which means it is on its way to becoming a full-fledged NCAA sport but is not there yet. A total of 40 Division I/II schools must sponsor equestrian in order to hold an NCAA-sponsored championship; Baylor is currently one of 23 participating institutions. The Bears are joined by fellow Big 12 schools Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, in-state rivals SMU and TCU, and other universities such as Auburn, Brown, Cornell, Fresno State, Georgia, New Mexico State and South Carolina.
So to recap, here’s Baylor Athletics’ year in review (so far): Two national titles, a Heisman, an Elite Eight hoops team, 12 teams currently in the top 25*, and all 19 varsity programs on track to make the postseason in 2011-12.
Sic ’em, Baylor equestrian and Baylor student-athletes in all sports!
* Ranked BU teams: women’s basketball (No. 1), equestrian (3), acrobatics & tumbling (5), baseball (6), men’s basketball (8), football (12), women’s tennis (12), women’s indoor track & field (16), women’s golf (17), women’s outdoor track & field (18), men’s outdoor track & field (19), and softball (23).