March 26, 2011
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. ---- Georgia fell just short in its attempt at a seventh Southern Equestrian Championship here Saturday afternoon, dropping an 11-9 decision to Auburn in a meet that, once again, was decided in the closing moments.
Georgia held a slim lead at the halfway mark after winning Equitation over Fences and the Horsemanship events, both by 3-2 margins. It was in the Equitation on the Flat event, however, where Auburn turned momentum in its favor with a 4-1 edge. The Tigers secured victory by taking Reining -- an event Georgia swept 5-0 in its win over South Carolina yesterday -- in a 3-2 margin.
"I was proud of our effort and the adjustments we made from yesterday's meet," said Georgia head coach Meghan Boenig. "Still, we had some minor errors, little things mostly, that we couldn't overcome against a team the quality of Auburn. Give Auburn credit. They rode really well and are deserving of the championship."
Auburn was paced in Hunt Seat by Maggie McAlary, who posted MVP rides in both events. Still, Georgia got Fences points today from Kacy Jenkins, Michelle Morris and freshman Abby O'Mara. Sophomore Grace Rogers won Georgia's lone point in the Flat event.
On the Western side, the Bulldogs won MVP honors in both events, led by Maria Salazar's winning ride in Horsemanship. She was joined in Reining by freshman McKenzie Lantz. Other Western point winners for Georgia included Anna Sasser and Michelle Fulcher in Horsemanship, as well as Diandra St. Hilaire in Reining.
Georgia will now begin preparations for the Varsity National Championships, to be held April 14-16 in Waco, Texas. The Bulldogs have won the past three national titles and five overall in the eight-year history of the sport.
"I'm excited that we have three weeks to prepare and get those little mistakes fixed before Nationals," Boenig said. "I'm also proud of the direction our Western team is headed in and the progress they've made. It makes us confident as we prepare to go to Texas and defend our title."