Bulldogs Third Overall at VENC
With a combined second place in English and seventh place in western, Georgia finished third overall at the 2007 Varsity Equestrian National Championships at the Heart O' Texas Fair Complex in Waco, Texas. In the English championship bracket the Bulldogs fell to South Carolina 6-2, while the western riders were victorious in the consolation round against Auburn 5-3.
"It was certainly exciting to be in the championship bracket," said head coach Meghan Boenig. "What happened were some unfortunate mistakes, but we can all leave knowing why the outcome was the way it was. That is good because now we know what we have to work on for next year. The competitors in this year's championships were so strong, and that's exactly what we want for this sport to keep growing."
After the first round of competition, the English team continued on to the advancing bracket where it posted a 8-0 sweep over Baylor. They then defeated Kansas State 7-1 to head in to the championship bracket where they lost to the Gamecocks.
The western squad had a tough go against South Carolina during its first round where the Bulldogs fell after calculating raw scores 990-980. In the second round, Georgia, again, had to rely on raw scored where it dropped the 989.5-985.5 decision to Kansas State. On the final day of competition, the Bulldogs faced Auburn defeating the Tigers for seventh place.
Several riders had strong performances throughout the three-day event both in English and western. Haylie Jayne picked up wins during each round of the tournament while scoring several high marks in both equitation on the flat and equitation over fences. Teammate Logan Fiorentino also came in the clutch for the Bulldogs along with Michelle Blair and Cordy Allsopp.
In the western ring, Sarah Locker had much success collecting three wins in reining. Kate Stewart and Sarah Dunsmore also had strong showings in Waco. Georgia Secures Three-peat at Southern Equestrian Championships
The equestrian team captured its third consecutive Southern Equestrian title with a 12-6 victory over Auburn Saturday afternoon. Three Bulldogs claimed all four MVP awards with Sarah Locker in reining, Lauren Love in horsemanship and Haylie Jayne in both equitation on the flat and equitation over fences.
"It was certainly wonderful to walk away with the Southeastern Equestrian Championship, especially for the third year in a row," said Boenig. There was great team effort and lots of focus. I thought it was a phenomenal job by the entire team. I'd like to give special kudos to all MVPs especially the western riders who dominated in both events. Haylie Jayne also did fabulous, and it was great for her to be able to secure the MVP in both events."
Georgia came out blazing from the start with a commanding 4-1 lead following the reining competition. Kate Stewart posted the event's highest score of the afternoon with a 72.5. She remains undefeated on the season with a perfect 9-0 record. Megan Darby and Locker each scored 70.5, while Erica Lang won with a 66.
The Bulldogs continued to out-point the Tigers taking equitation on the flat 2-1. Jayne tallied an 84 in the event for the highest flat score of the afternoon. Also taking home a win for Georgia was Michelle Blair with a 78.
The western squad sealed the Bulldogs' fourth Southern Equestrian Championship at the conclusion of horsemanship with their second 4-1 decision of the afternoon. Kelly Mundrick and Love both had the event's highest score with a 73. Alicia Shrum and Catherine Pennington also had wins in horsemanship with a 72.5 and 70.5, respectively.
Wrapping up championship competition was equitation over fences where Auburn edged out Georgia 3-2. Jayne, again, had the event's highest score with an 85. Kelley Cowperthwait out-pointed the Tigers' Katie Breedlove by nine to give the Bulldogs their second win over fences.
"We had riders going against top scores who went in with a lot of focus and did well," said Boenig. "I am very proud of them."
Bulldogs Record Another Successful Regular Season
The 2007-08 equestrian team enjoyed a strong regular season finishing with a 9-2 record including an unblemished mark of 6-0 at home where it remains undefeated over the past four years.
Georgia swept the 2006 Varsity Equestrian National Champion Auburn Tigers and picked up a win against the would-be 2007 Champion South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Bulldogs closed out their fourth consecutive undefeated fall season with the win against Berry College on Nov 19. In addition, Georgia boasts an unblemished record of 23-0 in home meets since riding under the NCAA format during the 2003-04 year.
"I don't know that there are many, if any, sports that can rival our record at home," said Boenig. "That certainly shows the dedication of our athletes. They take a great deal of pride with that."
At the start of the '06 season a host of newcomers was welcomed to fill in the gap left by last year's seniors. These fresh faces wasted no time making an impression on the program.
"We have 25 new members who all contributed," said Boenig. "Every sport has its years of rebuilding and, we're not doing that yet. You would expect a little bit of a recycling process to go on. A lot of schools were expecting less of us."
Reiner Kate Stewart was the lone Bulldog to tally an undefeated regular season with an 8-0 record.