April 9, 2014
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The awards keep rolling in for the Georgia equestrian team, as McKenzie Lantz and Liza Finsness were named the Southeastern Conference Riders of the Year. Lantz was named the SEC Rider of the Year in Reining, while Finsness took home Co-Rider of the Year honors in Equitation on the Flat.
Lantz, the reigning Reining SEC Rider of the year, earns the title after being named to the All-SEC team earlier this week. Lantz also earned Second Team All-American honors after winning 75 percent of her meets during the regular season. Lantz finished the regular season with a 9-3 record and five MOP honors. She went 1-1 at the SEC Championship, with her win coming in the Championship Meet against South Carolina, bringing her season record to 10-4. She posted six wins on the road, four wins over SEC teams and her five MOP honors was the most by any Georgia Western rider this year. The Freemont, Mich., native averaged a score of 70.9, the highest average score any Georgia Reiner and defeated her opponents by an average of one point. She rode to a season-best score of 75 against Texas A&M, for which she won MOP honors. Lantz owns three of the top four scores by a Georgia Reiner this year, including the top score of 75. She also holds three of the top-five Reining scores by any SEC rider this year, including the league's third best score of the year, which was also the highest Reining score in league play. Lantz won MOP honors in the SEC Championship final against South Carolina with her averaged score of 66. Prior to earning All-SEC and All-American honors this year, Lantz was named the SEC Reining Rider of the Month in February.
Finsness’ title comes one day after she was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in both Equitation on the Flat and Equitation Over Fences. 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.
Lantz, Finsness and the rest of the Georgia equestrian team will compete for Georgia’s sixth national title April 17-19 in Waco, Texas. The Bulldogs are the No. 3 seed in the championship.