Georgia riders cheer on their teammates riding in the arena. University of Georgia equestrian hosted and defeated South Carolina by a final score of 13-7 in Bishop, Georgia on March 2, 2019. (Photo/Kathryn Skeean)

By beating No. 2 Texas A&M 8-7 in the semifinal, the No. 6 Georgia equestrian team advanced to the finals of the National Collegiate Equestrian Association national championship at the Extraco Events Center in Waco, Texas, on Thursday night.

“We knew today was going to be a huge battle and every single time we were going to have to go and fight—that was certainly true of today,” Georgia head coach Meghan Boenig said. “We are very glad to be in this moment.”

The Bulldogs beat the Aggies in both of their meets in the regular season. In the SEC championship, Texas A&M beat Georgia 12-8.

Georgia beat its opponents 4-0 in reining twice on Thursday. The team swept both Baylor University and Texas A&M.

In equitation over fences the Aggies beat the Bulldogs 3-0. Senior Emma Mandarino tied with her opponent with a score of 253. In horsemanship, the Bulldogs and the Aggies tied at two. Senior Graysen Stroud scored her second point in horsemanship with a score of 224.5. With a score of 218.5, freshman Sara Lewis earned her first point at the collegiate national level.

Georgia swept in reining with Stroud scoring the first point with a score of 209.5. Freshman Courtney Blumer scored her second point of the day with a score of 214. With a score of 207, junior Annabeth Payne scored the final point for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs tied again in equitation on the flat 2-2 to send the team to the championship. The Aggies took the first point, but senior Madison Newman scored a point with a score of 221. Mairano beat her opponent with a score of 226 securing a victory.

The Bulldogs will compete Friday April 19th in quarterfinals rounds in all four individual events.

“I think we are going to need to decompress tonight and have some really good rest because we need to come back and execute tomorrow in order to get into some event championships,” Boenig said. “We are in a big one, the team one, the one that was absolutely our ultimate goal, but we would like to add a couple more. We need to reset that mindset and be ready to do that tomorrow morning.”

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