Dover, Del. (Apr. 12, 2017) --- The Delaware State equestrian team’s quest for a national championship begins tomorrow morning in Waco, Tex.  The underdog Hornets, seeded 12thn in the tournamnt, will take on No. 5 Texas A&M in the opening round of the 2017 National Collegiate Equestrian Association Championship Thursday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern at the Extraco Events Center.

The winner will take on No. 4 Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals on Apr. 14.

Delaware State was selected to compete in the national championships for the second year in a row after capturing the 2017 United Equestrian Conference championship in dramatic fashion last month.

This will be the third national team championship competition in school history. The Hornets competed for the National Independent Equestrian Championship in 2014.

The 12-team championship field is determined by the NCEA selection committee, which considers the combined strength of a school’s Western and Hunter Seat teams, in addition to other factors.

“This year’s national championship invitation is another major achievement for our team, especially the seniors, and the university,” said Delaware State head coach Jennifer Ridgely, the 2017 United Equestrian Conference Co-Coach of the Year. “Our student-athletes, past and present, along with our many wonderful supporters have worked extremely hard to make this happen and deserve so much credit for the accomplishment.”

The Delaware State head coach cautions against doubting her team’s chances against the sport’s top collegiate programs in the next month’s tournament.

“We are the little team that could,” Ridgely said. “Our girls beat the odds to win the United Equestrian Conference Tournament and are on a mission to prove they can compete against any team in the country.”

The two teams Delaware State defeated to win the United Equestrian Conference title, Fresno State and SMU, are also in the 2017 NCEA Tournament field.

Fresno State is seeded seventh and SMU eighth in national tournament.

Beginning with the 2014 championship, the top-12 overall teams (Western and Hunt Seat combined) are invited to compete. The NCEA Selection Committee determines and invites these teams based on a number of factors throughout the season. The top-four seeds in the NCEA Championship each receive first-round byes in the 12-team format.

Auburn is the defending NCEA champion. Since the first NCEA Championship in 2002, Georgia has won the most titles with six, followed by Auburn (4), South Carolina (3), and Texas A&M (2).

NCEA Championship Seeding
1. Baylor
2. Georgia
3. Auburn
4. Oklahoma State
5. Texas A&M
6. South Carolina
7. Fresno State
8. SMU
9. TCU
10. New Mexico State|
11. South Dakota State
12. Delaware State

Thursday, April 13 — Round 1
(5) Texas A&M vs. (12) Delaware State
(6) South Carolina vs. (11) South Dakota State
(7) Fresno State vs. (10) New Mexico State
(8) SMU vs. (9) TCU

Friday, April 14 — Quarterfinals
(1) Baylor vs. 8/9 Winner
(2) Georgia vs. 7/10 Winner
(3) Auburn vs. 6/11 Winner
(4) Oklahoma State vs. 5/12 Winner

Saturday, April 15 — Semifinals/Championship

Story includes information from the National Collegiate Equestrian Association

Delaware State equestrian