No. 6 Georgia equestrian fell to No. 1 Auburn 8-7 in the National Collegiate Equestrian Association team title Saturday at the Extraco Events Center, but it claimed three event titles in Horsemanship, Reining and Equitation Over Fences.
“It was a really difficult meet for us and to go 8-7—we are feeling it so much more because it was so tangible—so close,” Georgia head coach Meghan Boenig said. “Everyone is still sitting here and feeling, that one moment that could have changed the entire tide.”
Georgia finished the 2018-2019 season with an overall 7-9 record, beating No. 2 Texas A&M and No. 3 Baylor to advance to the championship final.
The Bulldogs lost to the Tigers 3-1 in Equitation on the Flat with junior Maddy Darst putting up the only point with a score of 241. The Tigers won the next three points to claim the event.
The Horsemanship team beat Auburn 3-1, tying the meet at four. Freshman Sara Lewis scored a point with a score of 223. Senior Graysen Stroud added another point, scoring a 224.5. Sealing it with a score of 222.5, senior Madison Anger closed out the event.
In Reining, Georgia broke the tie. Junior Annabeth Payne scored the first point in the event for the Bulldogs with a score of 218 then tied her opponent to push the point. Scoring a 214, junior Jordan Carpenter finished out the event and after review Stroud, sealed the final point with a 209.5.
In the final event — Equitation Over Fences — junior Ali Tritschler tied the Tigers with one point with a win. Sophomore Hayley Mairano fell to her opponent Mckayla Langmeier to tie the match 7-7. Defeating Darst, Auburn senior Ashton Alexander made her last ride with a score of 255-242, crowning Auburn national champions.
In addition to claiming three event titles, Georgia claimed overall Western crown.
“I am just honestly so proud of these girls,” Georgia assistant coach Sara Parr said. “To watch them come together the way they have is incredible. I always believed in them, but it was just getting them to believe in themselves. We peaked at the right time."
Georgia equestrian defeated Texas Christian University to claim the event title in Horsemanship with a raw score of 887.5-880.5. Scoring the first point for the Bulldogs, Lewis continued her domination with a score of 223. With her last ride as a Bulldog, Stroud won another point for Georgia with a score of 222.5.
Georgia took another title in Equitation Over Fences, with a score of 252 by Darst to earn the first point. Senior Emma Mandarino tied at 245 to push the point. Tied at one Tritschler claimed the crown with a score of 248.
In Reining, the Bulldogs beat South Methodist University Mustangs to claim the national title. Both Carpenter and Stroud both scored a 212.5, winning two points, and a raw score of 845.5 over 842.
In the NCEA Team Championship final, Stroud earned Most Outstanding Performance (MOP) honors for her ride in Reining. In addition to the national titles, Georgia’s Valducchy won Aon’s Most Outstanding Horse for Equitation on the Flat. The NCEA All-Championship Team featured three Bulldogs: Jordan Carpenter (Reining), Annabeth Payne (Reining) and Graysen Stroud (Horsemanship and Reining).
“What a magical week,” Boenig said. “We talked a lot about it this morning, this magic is something that is not an outside force but comes from within and that is the heart of this team—the passion and the preparation that came to fruition."