For three years, Bailey Williams has ridden proudly as a member of the UNC Charlotte equestrian club. During that stretch, however, no 49er has ever qualified for any event bigger than regionals. Until now.
On April 6, Williams will represent UNC Charlotte at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association’s Zone 4 Championships at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va. She is one of several students representing UNC Charlotte at intercollegiate club sports events this spring.
The equestrian club is one of more than 40 club sports teams officially recognized by UNC Charlotte’s Recreational Services. Other club teams distinguishing themselves in the last month have been roller hockey, jiujitsu, and billiards.
The roller hockey club has been one of the best teams in the country for a couple years. This season, the 49ers take a 21-0 record into the NCRHA National Championships April 9-13 in Ashton, Pa.
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Patrick Le, the jiujitsu club president, advanced to the second round of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Pan American Championships in March in Irvine, CA. It is the second largest Brazilian jiujitsu international competition, with competitors from North America and South America.
The billiards club competed in the Association of College Unions International regional tournament in March in Blacksburg, Va. UNC Charlotte qualified five in the male and female divisions for the national tournament to be held at a date and location yet to be determined.
Riders qualify for nationals
The equestrian club has 32 members and practices a few times a week at Fox Run Farms in Davidson. Club membership more than doubled from last year when it had 15 members.
Williams, an elementary education major from Apex, has been the club president for two years and served as vice president when she was a sophomore. She has been competing since she was 8 years old.
The club competes in events hosted by Region 3 colleagues from September through February. Region 3 schools include UNC Chapel Hill, N.C. State, UNC Wilmington, East Carolina and Campbell.
Riders accumulate points during the regular season events with the goal of qualifying for regionals. UNC Charlotte had four riders qualify for regionals this season.
At the Region 3 competition March 22 at St. Andrews in Laurinburg, Williams placed third in flats and second in fences. Her second place finish qualified her for the Zone 4 championships. There, she could qualify for the national competition May 3-4 in Harrisburg, Pa.
“I’ve been really excited,” said Williams. “I am ecstatic. This being my senior year, qualifying for zone has been the icing on the cake.”
The 49ers are coached by Sarah Merritt, a UNC Charlotte alumnus and former member of the equestrian club.
Half of the players in the 49ers’ batting order are all batting over .300. Samantha Slade (.377), Natalie Capone (.354), Jackie Kleinsmith (.342), Jessica Plemmons (.329), and Chelsea Lisikatos (.315) lead an offense that is batting .293 as a team.
Plemmons leads the team with 22 runs batted in and Slade is a close second with 21. Lexi Betancourt is Charlotte’s top pitcher, posting a 9-8 record and a 2.51 earned run average.
Track and field
Joann Blakney finished second in the 100-meter dash at last weekend’s Raleigh Relays. Her time of 11.70 seconds was only one-tenth of a second out of first. Lauren Gulley (Mallard Creek High) placed third in the high jump.
Joann Blakney, Alvonna Blakney, Sarah Justice and Briauna Jones took third in the 4x100 meter relay. The Blakney sisters, Justice and T’Sheila Mungo (Independence) were third in the 4x200 meter relay.
Daniel Greer, John Osborne (Victory Christian Center), Anthony Bynum (Hopewell), and LeRoy Rouse finished third as the men’s 4x100 meter relay team.