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|In June of 2001, Georgia took a bold step forward in the development of its athletics program when Equestrian was added as the 21st varsity intercollegiate sport. In the four years since, the Bulldogs’ program has become a national leader, both in the performance and in the movement, toward sponsorship by the NCAA.|
Bulldogs Nearly Perfect
Georgia’s single loss came in College Station, Texas where the western riders finished third at the Big Eight Western Tournament. The Bulldogs wrapped up the regular season with a win at home versus South Carolina and road victories at Fresno State and Auburn.
Bulldogs Fourth at VENC
“I’m really proud of our girls and I think we learned a lot,” Boenig said. “This loss is a lot easier to swallow than last year’s loss since we got to compete head-to-head on the same horses.”
Entering the Championships with the No. 1 seed, the Georgia English riders received a bye. The bracket paired them up with Kansas State in first round bye competition where the Bulldogs emerged victorious 786-749. Seniors Byerly Vaughn and Logan Fiorentino and sophomore Kelly Bonau all had wins on the flat, while junior Rachel Berkowitz posted the lone win over fences on the day.
In the second round of the VENC the English riders fell to SEC rival Auburn 776-735. Despite the loss, sophomore Michelle Blair scored a win on the flat out-pointing her opponent by 22. Also adding wins for the Bulldogs was senior Leigh Harper, Fiorentino and Berkowitz. The Georgia riders came back in the consolation match up against New Mexico State topping the Aggies 822-715. All four Bulldogs posted wins on the flat for a sweep in the event.
Western competition opened against Fresno State where the Bulldogs took the 852.5-841 advantage. Senior Sarah Meier
On day two, Georgia western riders were edged out by Auburn by the slightest of margins with a final score of 841.5-840. Meier posted the top score for the Bulldogs with a 142.5 in horsemanship. Also adding on a win for Georgia was Slocumb whose score of 140.5 outpointed her opponent by six. Pennington and her Auburn competition tied in the event with a score of 139.
In the consolation round of the Championships, the western squad fell to Texas A&M 856.5-850.5. In her final appearance for Georgia, senior Carly Veldman secured the lone win for the Bulldogs scoring 1.5 points higher than her opponent in the reining event.
Back-to-Back Southern Champs
In equitation over fences seniors Logan Fiorentino and Megan Richardson tallied wins for Georgia. Richardson defeated her South Carolina opponent by 14 points.
The equitation on the flat riders dominated the event winning four of five match ups. Kelly Bonau posted the highest score overall with an 84, while Fiorentino outpointed her opponent by 15.
Ashley Slocumb, Sarah Meier and Dana Kennedy all had victories in the western horsemanship event. Kennedy led the trio with the highest point total and biggest margin of victory, scoring a 95 that bettered her competition by nine points.
With four reining wins, the Bulldogs claimed a 344-330 advantage in the event pushing them ahead of the Gamecocks securing the back-to-back Southern Equestrian Championship. Meier posted the highest reining score with an 89.5. Teammate Kate Stewart had the largest margin of victory defeating her opponent by 7.5 points.