Jackrabbits earn first NCEA Championship wins

Over the past weekend, the SDSU equestrian team competed in its first-ever NCEA National Championships in Waco, Texas, earning the first two victories in school history.

 Soon after its victories, the team was defeated by No. 2-seeded Kansas State, while hunt seat was defeated by No. 4-seeded Auburn.

“It was a great experience for us, for our team to move on past the first round in both the hunt seat and the western,” said SDSU head coach Megan Rossiter. “We didn’t have any particular expectations … really, our goal was to make it past that first round, and we did it on both sides, so that’s pretty exciting.”

Beginning the events on April 18, the No. 12-seeded Jackrabbits went up against No. 5-seeded Texas Christian University in the hunt seat event, ending in a tie of 4-4 between the two teams. However, the Jacks advanced based on their raw score advantage of 1,107-1,022 over the TCU Horned Frogs, ultimately giving them the first win in school history on the national stage.

“On the hunt seat side, even the ones that did not win their points for the team, it came down to raw score, so their scores mattered as well,” Rossiter said. “They were just consistently good … they all had to contribute to those wins.”

In the western events, the No. 7-seeded Jackrabbits went up against the No. 10-seeded UT-Martin, earning a victory of 5-3.

Santana Wright and Megan Violand scored their points in equitation on the flat and over fences. Violand earned a score of 152 and also had 142 points over fences. Wright finished with 153 over fences and 146 on the flat.

On April 19, the Jackrabbits’ run in the championships came to an end, as they were defeated in both the western and hunt seat events.

The No. 7-seeded western squad was defeated by the No. 2-seeded Kansas State Wildcats by a score of 8-0, eliminating SDSU from contention in its first NCEA National Championships.

“It seemed like they gave everything they had,” Rossiter said. “But like I said, the goal was to make it past that first round and then for next year hopefully we’ll make it past that second round. So it’s kind of just chipping away at the block and making small steps forward for the entire team.”

Despite the season coming to an end, Rossiter still believes the team accomplished its goals and looks forward to heading into the off-season.

Rossiter also has positives to take away from the season as a whole, saying the team had more success because team members were more confident in themselves.

“The success this year is going to roll over into next year,” Rossiter said. “I think that the mentality for the athletes is that they really can compete … it was a really positive year for us.”

Looking to next season, Rossiter knows she has members on the team that will step into a leadership role, though she said most of the team will be pretty young.

“We’ve got a couple of seniors next year … Santana Wright … she’s consistently been a strong rider for us,” Rossiter said. “Shelby Webb had an awesome year this year in the horsemanship — she’s going to be one of our leaders. Laura Dunlavy … she was an All-American this year. It’ll be critical to have those riders back for next year.”