April 8, 2014
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Liza Finsness and Charley Thiel have each earned Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year honors, it was announced today. Finsness took home the honors in both Equitation Over Fences and Equitation on the Flat, while Thiel picked up the title in Reining. In all, a Georgia rider won three of the four SEC Freshman of the Year honors this season.
Finsness was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in both Hunt Seat events after being named to both the All-SEC Team and All-Freshman Team in both Equitation on the Flat and Equitation Over Fences yesterday. She was the only freshman to earn a spot on the All-SEC and was one of just three riders to be named an All-SEC rider in two events. She was also the only rider on the All-Freshman team to be selected in both Equitation on the Flat and Equitation Over Fences. Finsness, a Second Team All-American in Equitation Over Fences, finished the regular-season with an 8-2 record in the event before going 1-1 at the SEC Championship to improve to 9-3 on the year. She also has four MOP honors this season, the most by a Fences rider this season. Finsness is averaging a score of 83.5 and has defeated her opponents by an average of 5.2 points, the highest margin of victory by any Fences rider who has competed in more than six meets for the Bulldogs. She posted a season-best score of 90, which ties the highest score set by an SEC Fences rider this season, came against Texas A&M in her first meet competing in the event. She finished with a 5-0 record and three MOPs against SEC teams this season. Finsness owns three of the top five scores posted by a Georgia rider in Equitation Over Fences this season and two of the top-10 scores recorded by an SEC Fences rider this year. She went 1-1 at the SEC Championship, earning MOP honors with her score of 172 (90 and 82) against her opponent from Auburn.
In Equitation on the Flat, Finsness was named a First Team All-American, an All-SEC rider and an SEC All-Freshman rider after finishing the regular-season with a record of 9-3 that included five road wins. She went 1-1 at the SEC Championship, bringing her overall record to 10-4. Her 10 wins this season were the most by any Georgia Hunt Seat rider this year. Finsness led the Hunt Seat squad with six MOP honors in Equitation on the Flat, after averaging a score of 79.8 over 14 meets and defeating her opponents by an average of 3.6 points. The Wellington, Fla., native's season-best score of 89 came against TCU, while her season-best score in SEC competition was an 88 against Auburn. She went 5-1 in SEC meets this year, earning four MOP honors along the way. Finsness also owns two of the top five scores posted by a Georgia rider in Equitation on the Flat, including the top score against an SEC opponent this year. In addition to her All-American accolades, Finsness was named the NCEA Rider of the Month in November, as well as the SEC Rider of the Month in both October and November.
Thiel, who earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team in Reining yesterday, was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in the event. Thiel competed in 12 of Georgia's 14 meets, posting an overall record of 7-5 after going 1-1 in the SEC Championship. Averaging a score of 69.5, Thiel defeated her opponents by an average of nearly one point. She earned one MOP honor on the year when she defeated her opponent from Delaware State with a score of 71. Her season-best score was a 72.5, which she posted twice, both times against South Carolina. She earned two wins over SEC foes in the regular season before defeating her opponent from Auburn with an averaged score of 70.25 in the semifinal meet of the SEC Championship. She has two scores in the SEC top-20 this season.