MVP Winner Megan Hawkins
March 31, 2012
BISHOP, Ga. - The No. 1 University of Georgia equestrian team tied with No. 6 South Carolina in the final round of the Southern Equestrian Championship but fell 4201-3083 in the raw score. Georgia swept MVP honors, as Carly Anthony, Kylee Arbuckle, Megan Hawkins and McKenzie Lantz each earned MVP honors in their respective event. It was the first Southern Equestrian Championship title for the Gamecocks and the 10th time that Georgia has made it to the final round of competition.
"I thought our riders really rode their hearts out today," head coach Meghan Boenig said. "There were just a few times that we weren't on our A-game and you can't have those mistakes against a tough team like South Carolina. South Carolina came out and capitalized on its rides. I think that South Carolina is severely under ranked and is going to be a tough team to ride against come Nationals."
Arbuckle scored the first point of the day with her MVP-winning ride of 167, which resulted in a win over Paige Dekko in equitation over fences. After South Carolina tied the event at one, Carly Anthony posted a 177-175 win over Amber Henter that allowed Georgia to retake a 2-1 lead. The Gamecocks scored the final two points in equitation over fences to take a 3-2 lead heading into horsemanship.
The Bulldogs used winning rides by Hawkins, Paige Stawicki and Anna Sasser to take a 3-2 win in reining. South Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead, before Hawkins scored a MVP-earning 148.5-144.5 win over Johnna Letchworth to make it 2-1. Stawicki followed with a 142.5-140 win over Sam Chiodo to tie horsemanship at two. Sasser secured Georgia's 3-2 horsemanship victory with a 147.5-146.5 win over Maggie Fortune.
With the competition tied at five, Arbuckle and Anthony came away with a pair of wins in equitation on the flat to give the Bulldogs a 7-5 lead. Arbuckle posted a 164-163 win over Emma Johnson. Anthony's MVP ride followed, as she scored a 177-175 win over Katherine Schmidt, that included a season-high 97 from judge one. South Carolina's Kimberly McCormack grabbed the next point before Caitlyn Francis earned a 167-158 win over Kelsey Hart that made it 3-1 in equitation on the flat and 8-6 overall. The Gamecocks posted the final point on the flat, but Georgia a 3-2 win in the event and an 8-7 overall lead into the final event.
Becca Haaland gave the Bulldogs and early 1-0 lead in reining, scoring a 145.5-136.5 win over South Carolina's Audrey Jewell. South Carolina's Layla Choate earned the second point of the event, bringing the reining score to 1-1. Lantz answered with her MVP-winning 140.5-136 victory over Annie Laurie McDonald, giving the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead in reining and a 10-8 lead overall. The Gamecocks grabbed the next point, bringing the overall score to 10-9 with one ride remaining. USC's Amanda Pope edged Georgia for the final point, resulting in a 3-2 win in reining and a 10-10 tie overall.
Georgia will head to the National Collegiate Equestrian Association Championship April 12-14 in Waco, Texas. The Bulldogs will enter the competition as the No. 3 seed in both the hunt seat and western disciplines, resulting in a first-round bye for each.