BROOKINGS – No. 11 seeded South Dakota State heads to Waco, Texas this week for the 2017 NCEA National Championship, which begins on Thursday at the Extraco Events Center.
The Jackrabbits, who went 3-8 overall, will face No. 6 seeded South Carolina in the opening round. The winner of the first round match-up will face No. 3 seeded Auburn, who earned runner-up honors at the SEC conference championship.
This is the first time in four years SDSU has been invited to nationals, which open on Thursday, April 13 and run through Saturday, April 15.
The Jacks and the Gamecocks are meeting for the seventh time in program history. The last time the two teams faced each other was September 25, 2015 when South Carolina visited Brookings, winning the meet 9-7. USC currently leads the series 6-0.
Follow the Jacks
Fans not able to attend the NCEA Championship can follow along on Twitter (@GoJacksEQ) and Facebook (South Dakota State Equestrian Team) for live results. Live coverage will be available throughout the weekend. Fans can go to https://eqsports.net/schedule to watch this year's championship.
National Championship History
The last time the Jacks competed in the NCEA Championship was in 2013. The No. 12 seeded hunt seat team faced TCU in the first round, winning the tiebreak 1,077-1,022. The No. 7 seeded western team defeated UT-Martin 5-3 to continue on to the next round. Both the hunt seat and western teams fell in the second round 7-0 to Kansas State and Auburn, respectively.
SDSU has not competed in the championship since the NCEA started crowning one overall winner in 2014.
Coach Wilkins Makes History
Head coach Ellie Wilkins will be making NCEA and SDSU history this year. Wilkins is the first SDSU coach to take a team to nationals and the only coach in the NCEA to take a team alone since one champion has been crowned. She is also the youngest SDSU coach to take a team to nationals since the start of the program.
The last time Wilkins attended nationals was in 2014 when she was a student-athlete competing for Texas A&M.
Scouting South Carolina
South Carolina, 6-8 overall, comes into nationals after claiming fourth at the SEC conference championship. The Gamecocks lost to Georgia in the semifinals, 13-7 before falling to Texas A&M, 12-8 in the consolation finals.
USC, who comes into nationals as the No. 6 seed, has defeated Baylor, Georgia, New Mexico State, Delaware State, TCU and SMU this season.