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Annabeth Payne and Smoke fly around their reining pattern. The University of Georgia equestrian team hosted No. 1 Auburn, losing by a score of 12-8 on Feb. 8, 2020, in Bishop, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

No. 6 Georgia equestrian’s last meet of the regular season came down to the final event of the evening, with No. 8 TCU outlasting the Bulldogs 10-9 in Fort Worth, Texas. With Saturday’s loss, Georgia’s overall record moves to 6-6 on the season. 

Georgia achieved the highest scores in all four events of the afternoon against the Horned Frogs. Senior Maddy Darst highlighted Fences and Flats with an 88 and 91. Sophomore Sara Lewis scored the highest in Horsemanship with a 79, and fellow sophomore Courtney Blumer placed the best score in Reining with a 74, respectively. 

Darst earned Most Outstanding Performance in both Fences and Flats to give her 17 such honors this season — 11 for Fences and six for Flats. An unfamiliar face was also added to the Most Outstanding Performance list as Blumer earned her first this season for her score of 74 in Reigning. 

“Obviously, we would have much preferred the win, but [we’re] thrilled to have those three MOPs,” head coach Meghan Boenig said. “It felt like there were a lot of places that we made some huge improvements on away horses.”

Opening the day in Fences, seniors Ali Tritschler and Darst outscored their opponents by the largest margins of the day claiming two points for the Bulldogs. Tritschler defeated TCU’s Isabella Baxter by a score of 87-77 and Darst followed with the event-high score of 88 to defeat Misty Redd by nine points. 

In Reigning, Blumer matched her career high score of 74 to give the Bulldogs their only point of the event. Junior Jordan Carpenter had the second-best ride of the event for Georgia with a score of 71. 

TCU lead 6-3 at the half, but Georgia soon came back with a 3-2 win in Flats following Darst’s winning score of 91. Tritschler went unbeaten for the day with a 90-83 win and sophomore Hayley Mairano’s season high score of 88 secured the Bulldogs’ first victory. 

The outcome of the day all came down to Horsemanship. At first, Georgia had the advantage as three riders earned career high scores. Sophomore Taylor Burgess rode to a score of 77.5 outscoring her opponent by four points. Then, Lewis’ career high score extended her win streak to four with a 79-76 victory over Drew Rogers. Lastly, senior Maddie Fiorante rode to a score of 78. Mattie Dukes’ 78 sealed the Horned Frogs’ victory besting Georgia sophomore Lexie Lane’s score of 75. 

“I love the fight that came back in these Bulldogs today,” Boenig said. “There is a lot of fight left in this team to prove something. We are just going to have to do that on day one at SECs.”

With the regular season complete, Georgia’s focus turns to the two-day SEC championships on March 27-28 at the UGA Equestrian Complex. 

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