The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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With five athletes named Ariat All-Americans, the SMU equestrian team is the 2024 NCEA Champion

SMU Equestrian won its second consecutive NCEA National Championship.

After having five SMU riders named Ariat All-Americans, the Mustangs won their second consecutive NCEA championship in Ocala, Florida on April 20 with a 12-7 win over TCU.

On April 9, the National Collegiate Equestrian Association named five Mustangs, Nya Kearns, Augusta Iwasaki, and Taylor Zimmerman, Lily Anderson and Katy Merchant as 2023-24 Ariat All-Americans.

Kearns, Iwasaki and Zimmerman were all named First Team All-American in Horsemanship, Fences and Reining respectively. Lily Anderson was named second team in Reining and Katy Merchant received an honorable mention in Flat.

Each year the NCEA names Ariat All-American First Team, Second Team and honorable mentions. They award First Team to the top five riders in each event: Fences, Flat, Horsemanship and Reining. The next five riders for each event are given Second Team and honorable mentions are given to those who have had notable winnings throughout the season.

This year TCU was given six First Team honors, Auburn got four, and SMU and Georgia were close behind with three each.

The whole team is proud of the five honors their athletes received. Being named All-American is “every collegiate athlete’s dream” according to Anderson who is a captain this year.

“I think that it is just a testament to all the hard work that everyone puts in,” Zimmerman adds.

Zimmerman said it was especially exciting for her to be honored as a fifth year. “[It] was a bucket list item.”

Their team slogan this year is “Work, Play, Win” which is representative of their dedication and how they “operate as a team,” said Anderson.

Despite starting the season with a loss against TCU, the Mustangs had a winning record of 9-4 going into the NCEA Championships.

“I really believe in this team and I think having confidence in ourselves and each other has been one of the biggest reasons for our success,” said Iwasaki. “We won last year … and we will do everything we can to make it possible for all our newcomers and all of our seniors and fifth years.”

Although they would have to defeat the team that they previously lost to, SMU was ranked number three, and the team felt good going into the NCEA Championships after last year’s win and the honors they recently received.

“We are all super strong right now and have been putting in the extra work needed (to succeed) so I think that it will pay off,” said Zimmerman. “We are looking to defend our title.”

The team is very tight-knit and focused on supporting each other as the season ramps up. They have mandatory practices three times a week and two team workouts. Most athletes also practice extra in their free time.

Anderson says the dynamic at SMU is what makes it different from other teams and what contributed to their back-to-back national championships.

“We know that no one person can win a meet on their own so we rely on and trust in each other to help us get each win,” Anderson said.

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