WACO, Texas — Year two of participation in the National Collegiate Equestrian Association not only returns the Sweet Briar squad to the NCEA National Championship, but puts the Vixens in an unfamiliar spot as the higher seed in their opening fences dual.
Last season the debutants from Sweet Briar were the lower seed over fences and on the flat, drawing the No. 10 seed over fences and No. 13 seed on the flat. After gaining experience in the Extraco Events Center last season and throughout the programs second NCEA season, the Vixens drew the low seed in an 11-6 matchup on the flat against Oklahoma state, but pushed into the higher No. 8 seed against No. 9-seed Delaware State over fences.
The Vixens made their presences over fences known early in the 2018-19 season by topping then-No. 6 SMU 3-2 thanks to a season opening ride by Emily Schlosberg (Fairfax, Va.), resulting in 82 points to the senior and Most Outstanding Performer honors.
The Vixens success over fences continued in a 4-1 win over the Delaware State team they will see in the opening round of the NCEA National Championships. First-year Charlotte Hadley (Tiverton, R.I.) rode to an 82 and MOP laurels at Delaware State.
After a four-meet hiccup over fences, the Vixens righted the ship in a big way in the regular season finale, outjumping Texas A&M 3-2 at the Harriet Howell Rogers Riding Center. Texas A&M earned the No. 5-seed over fences in Waco. Against the Aggies, first-year Maggie Fraley (White Haven, Pa.) recorded the highest score of all riders over fences and second of the entire day when she earned MOP with an 88-point ride.
Sweet Briar ranked as high as No. 6 this season over fences, entering the championship at No. 8.
The Vixens meet No. 9 Delaware State over fences, with the Vixens holding a 2-1 record over fences against the Hornets. Sweet Briar enters Wednesday on a two-meet winning streak over Delaware State. Delaware State enters the championship show having been outscored over fences in all six of the Hornets' meets this season, despite Gabrielle Fournier being named All-Conference by the United Equestrian Conference over fences.
On the flat, the Vixens drew the No. 11-seed after being ranked as high as No. 9 during the regular season.
Sweet Briar opened the season without a team win on the flat until the third meet of the season against Tennessee Martin, where the Vixens topped the Skyhawks 3-1. An 88 and a MOP nod for sophomore Katie Balding (Williamsburg, Va.) helped earn a 3-1 win on the flat for Sweet Briar against South Dakota State as the Vixens picked up two victories in Tennessee on the flat.
The Vixens' opening round foes, Oklahoma State have not competed against Sweet Briar in the Vixens' short time competing in NCEA. The Cowgirls are 8-6 this season on the flat, while Abigail Brayman was the Most Outstanding Performer at the 2019 Big 12 Equestrian Championship on the flat.
The first round of over fences competition begins on Wednesday at 8:35 a.m. (Central Daylight Time) at the Extraco Show Pavilion with the Vixens and Hornets set to open competition as the first dual of the bracket. Sweet Briar and Oklahoma State are scheduled to compete in the final dual on the flat, with competition scheduled to begin at 1:40 p.m. (CDT) at the Extraco Show Pavilion.