At the halfway point of the year, there are a few teams in the United Equestrian Conference who have put themselves in a good position entering the most important time of the year, the spring.
Fresno State is currently at the top of the standings with a 5-2 overall record and 3-0 record in the UEC. Meanwhile, SMU is just behind with a 3-1 overall record and 1-0 mark in the UEC, and will have plenty of opportunities to jump to the top of the league in the spring. New Mexico State has an overall record of 3-4, but the Aggies have won two of three league meets to keep pace with Fresno and SMU as well.
Tennessee-Martin, Delaware State and South Dakota State may not have the records they want right now, but the spring will present a chance for those teams to build some momentum and maybe make a late run at the top three teams.
New Mexico State, the defending champions of the UEC, is in a particularly good spot entering the home stretch of the season. The Aggies will compete at home for four of the five meets in the spring after having just one home meet in the fall.
"We've never had so many home meets in one semester, so we're really looking forward to that," head coach Robin Morris-Walters said.
The Aggies are in the midst of an important battle out of the ring of competition as they are fighting to keep their equestrian program alive. The riders have rallied around the goal of not letting that become a distraction, and the results speak for themselves.
"I'm really pleased with the way everyone persevered all year considering the cloud that we're competing under," Morris-Walters said. "Everyone has got down to work and taken it seriously and have really performed well. Despite some losses, we've played some big schools well, and we're really looking forward to our spring semester because we're home."
SMU has played in just one league meet so far, a 12-6 victory over Delaware State, but that will change quickly when competition begins again. After opening the spring against No. 1 Texas A&M, the Mustangs face both Fresno State and New Mexico State at home in huge meets. SMU will cap off the conference season with road trips to Fresno State and South Dakota State.
The United Equestrian Conference is a young, but extremely competitive league that features several teams who could easily win the conference at any point. Fresno State won the inaugural championship before New Mexico State took home the honors last season.
The competitiveness between the six teams in the league is definitely a plus when it comes time for the postseason.
"We're looking forward to that, and it does give us a big boost heading into that final postseason," Fresno State head coach Eric Hubbard said.
The Bulldogs brought back a wealth of talent from last year's team, meaning they have a lot of experience and know what they're capable of. Fresno State upset then-No. 1 Auburn earlier in the year, and its final two conference meets in the spring are both against SMU, the team that is currently just behind the Bulldogs in the standings.
"We had a lot of success this fall season with a couple upsets and just having a good record," Hubbard said. "We'll keep pushing through."
United Equestrian Conference standings
1. Fresno State- 5-2, 3-0 UEC
2. SMU- 3-1, 1-0 UEC
3. New Mexico State- 3-4, 2-1 UEC
4. Tennessee-Martin- 0-4, 0-1 UEC
5. Delaware State- 0-7, 0-2 UEC
6. South Dakota State- 1-5, 0-2 UEC