March 25, 2011
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. ---- Georgia got a 5-0 sweep in Reining, the final event of the day, to surge past host South Carolina and defeat the Gamecocks 11-8 in the first round of the Southern Equestrian Championships here Friday.
The Bulldogs, seeded second, will face top seed Auburn in the championship round at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday at One Wood Farm. Georgia has won this event six of the eight previous times it has been held, and Auburn's victory last season ended the Bulldogs' win streak at five straight times.
"This was another great come-from-behind win today," Georgia head coach Meghan Boenig said. "Once again, our reiners came through when we needed them. They had done that one time before earlier in the season. That speaks so well for Coach Mary Meneely and our riders, who have come so far this season. McKenzie Lantz hit that first ride and really set the tone for the rest of the reiners. Everyone just took a deep breath after that. I saw a lot of poise and confidence in Georgia in that last event."
Indeed, Georgia's reiners rescued the Bulldogs in a similar fashion in its dual-meet victory over Auburn on Feb. 12. Against the Tigers, Georgia took four of a possible five Reining points to rally for an 11-9 victory.
Georgia trailed Carolina 5-4 after the first two events and 8-6 after the third. The Gamecocks took a narrow 5-4 win in the Hunt Seat competition, winning Equitation on the Flat 3-2 and splitting four Fences points with the Bulldogs. USC also took a 3-2 decision in Horsemanship, the first Western event of the meet, to put the hosts in a commanding position.
Bulldog reiners, however, had a different plan. All five competitors won in dominating fashion, led by senior Diandra St. Hilaire, who claimed MVP honors with a 6-point decision. Freshmen McKenzie Lantz and Jackie Hoyt added points before Becca Haaland and senior Hannah Dyer wrapped up the meet with wins in the final two positions.