2013-14 Equestrian Season Recap
June 3, 2014
The Georgia equestrian team capped off its 2013-14 season by hoisting the NCEA National Championship trophy for the sixth time in program history. The Bulldogs also had six riders earn seven NCEA All-American honors, led the SEC with 11 riders earning 14 All-SEC honors, had two SEC Freshmen of the Year and two SEC Riders of the Year.
The Bulldogs began the 2013 season ranked No. 1 in the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) pre-season poll and remained there until falling to Auburn on the road in November for their first season loss. Georgia put up only two additional losses against Kansas State and South Carolina, ending the regular season 9-3 overall and 4-2 in the SEC.
Though the Bulldogs saw just three losses during the regular season, their No. 1 ranking dropped to No. 7 before climbing back to their current No. 2 ranking. After opening the spring season ranked sixth, Georgia put up back-to-back wins against Delaware State and the Tennessee-Martin. A loss to USC at home in February landed Georgia at No. 7, its lowest ranking of the year. However a win over Auburn in late February boosted the Bulldogs back to No 3. After a strong spring season, the Bulldogs entered the SEC Championship ranked No. 2 in the NCEA poll.
Georgia earned the No. 2 seed in the SEC Championship after losing the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed to South Carolina. The Bulldogs dispatched third-seeded Auburn 12-8 to advance to the SEC Finals where they would face top-seeded South Carolina. The Bulldogs rode to what looked to be a one point victory, but after several score reviews, it was found that the teams had tied 10-10, with South Carolina coming away with the SEC Title in raw score.
Though the team was not satisfied with the result of the SEC Championship, the Bulldogs were fueled by the outcome.
After a first round bye in the NCEA Championship, Georgia handed Baylor an 8-7 win in the quarterfinal round, advancing it to the semifinal round where the Bulldogs would take on Oklahoma State. The Bulldogs sent Oklahoma State packing with an 8-6 victory, setting up a rematch against South Carolina for the NCEA National Title.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-1 lead in Equitation on the Flat, but South Carolina was able to take a 7-5 lead after taking 3-1 decisions in both Equitation Over Fences and Horsemanship. The Reiners posted clutch performance after clutch performance, allowing Georgia to come away with the title. Trailing 7-5 going into the event, the Bulldogs knew they needed their best from the Reining team. Lantz opened the event with a 145-134.5 win for Georgia's first point, which brought the overall score to 7-6. Lauren Garmon scored the tying point with her 138.5-0 win. With the event tied at 7-7, Lauren Tieche turned in an event high 147.5, which beat allowing Georgia to pull ahead 8-7. Layla Choate secured South Carolina's lone point of the event, but it was not enough, as the Bulldogs came away 2,323.5-2,219 in the raw score.
In addition to the title, the Bulldogs had three riders earn individual honors. Lantz was named the Most Outstanding Player in Reining after going 2-1. Liza Finsness was named the MOP in Equitation on the Flat with her 3-0 record. Lantz and Finsness joined Abby O’Mara on the All-Championship team.
After bring the national championship back to Athens, the equestrian team took home its second straight Bulldog Cup at the Student-Athlete Awards Banquet. The Bulldog Cup is awarded annually and recognizes the team that excels academically, supports their peers in athletic competition, and consistently serves the community. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee initiated the award in 2010. In addition to the Bulldog Cup, Kate Skoglund was given the Marilyn Vincent Scholar-Athlete Award, while Julia Hemingway earned the Hornsby Howell Community Service Award. Skoglund and Maria Salazar were given the Scholar-Athlete Award, which is presented to a student-athlete, or athletes, from each team who had the highest GPA at the conclusion of the last academic year.
Georgia equestrians were honored for their work in the classroom as well, as nearly 70 percent of the team earned at least a 3.00 GPA during the 2013 fall semester. In all, 48 Bulldogs were named to the J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Honor Roll. Thirty members of the team posted GPAs of between 3.50-3.99, while 18 recorded a GPA of between 3.00-3.49. Sydney Beasley and Kate Skoglund earned Presidential Scholar honors for finishing the semester with a perfect 4.00 GPA while taking 14 or more hours. Morgan Beavers also posted a 4.00 GPA in the fall. Additionally, 19 equestrians were named to the Dean’s List, earning a GPA of 3.50 or higher while taking 14 or more hours. The Georgia equestrian team finished with a program-best 3.41 team GPA for the 2013-14 school year. Additionally, 17 Bulldogs graduated from Georgia in the spring.
From the arena, to the classroom, to the community, the Georgia equestrian team raised an already high bar even higher.