It’s hard to think of a more dramatic event to kick off the TCU equestrian team’s spring season than Friday night’s match against SMU at the Fort Worth Stock Show.
Still, Haley Schoolfield, director of equestrian, said she’s confident in her squad’s ability.
“Our athletes are working hard to ensure that they are at their best on Friday,” Schoolfield said. “There is absolutely a friendly cross town rivalry.”
Led by talented seniors such as Katelyn Gray, Alexi Child and Kaitlin Perry, the equestrian team is ranked No. 2 in the nation, trailing behind Baylor.
Schoolfield said that the seniors’ influence and the high ranking are connected.
“All three of these young women are extraordinary athletes, outstanding in the classroom and exceptional leaders,” Schoolfield said. “They are battled hardened when it comes to competing at the collegiate level and their high level of confidence is comforting to our younger team members. “
While their influence mentally is strong, their performances on horseback drive the team as well.
Gray was named the Sun Circuit Champion on Sunday, beating Arizona State’s Gabi Salamone in the finals. Perry was named Big XII Rider of the Month in two different disciplines during the fall semester, and Child is a two-time NCEA All-American.
But Schoolfield said that the team can’t afford to rest on their laurels.
“It’s a well-known fact that it is easier to get to the top than to stay there,” Schoolfield said. “Of course, we want to reach No. 1 and we know that our spring competition schedule doesn’t allow for any breathing room or bad days.”
She said that the two-month layoff between competitions won’t play a role in the Frogs’ performance on Friday.
“I don’t anticipate a ‘rust factor,'” she said. “As a team, we are fresh, prepared and anxious to start the season.”
The Stock Show match against SMU is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Schoolfield said that she is hoping for an “electric atmosphere.”