Georgia Equestrian Reflects on Successes at Bulldog Invitational



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ATHENS, Ga. - Following the first official competition of the season the equestrian coaching staff is extremely pleased with the performances turned in by its riders.

“I’m really proud of our girls, and I’m so happy that we started seeing consistency in the first weekend of real competition,” said head coach Meghan Boenig. “It makes me feel much more confident in our riders’ abilities to knock it dead.”

Georgia riders made a total of 51 appearances throughout the two-day event emerging victorious in 31 of those outings.

On the English side, the Bulldogs had multiple winning rides put forth by a number of its members. Junior Kelly Bonau went a perfect 3-0 on the weekend competing in both the flat and fences events. In the finals against Baylor, Bonau recorded the tournament’s highest score in any event with a 92 on the flat.

“Kelly had near perfects rides this weekend in both jumping and on the flat,” said assistant coach Jennifer Newman. Boenig added that she believes Bonau is taking her riding to a “new level” this year.

Sophomore Kelley Cowperthwait went 1-1 over fences, but more importantly, scored 12 points better than her Baylor opponent in the finals.

“Kelley was amazingly consistent all weekend and came with her game face,” said Newman. “She gave me goosebumps. There was nothing I could say to her that she could have done better on. She was amazing.”

After making just one appearance over fences in her freshman campaign, Cordy Allsopp made two rides in that event in the opening weekend for the Bulldogs scoring an 84 on Saturday.

“Cordy walked in the ring and laid it down,” said Newman. “She knew what she had to do and did it.”

Two names often seen in the equestrian spotlight are Logan Fiorentino and Rachel Berkowitz. The two contributed strong rides in both the fences and flat events throughout the weekend and earned game MVP honors for Georgia.

“Logan is a true competitor, and every time she walks in the ring somebody learns something somewhere,” said Newman. “Rachel has nerves of steel. She is one of the coolest riders I have ever seen.”

Western riders were just as successful in their events with a total of 15 wins for the two-day event. Many upperclassmen, as well as a number of underclassmen, had positive contributions in horsemanship and reining.

“I thought everyone was really calm and had their game faces on which I hope continues throughout the season,” said assistant coach Carly Veldman. “In reining, Kate Stewart, Megan Darby, Anna Hichborn and Sarah Locker all had great rides both days. That gives me a lot of confidence.”

Stewart, Darby and Hichborn all went 2-0 in reining throughout the weekend. Stewart scored a 75 on Saturday and a 71 on Sunday out-pointing her opponent by 2.5 in each outing. In the final ride of the Bulldog Invitational, Darby recorded the highest score of all reining competitors with a 76. That ride also earned her reining MVP honors for the game. Hichborn added two 70+ point rides of her own in the Bulldog’s opening game versus Kansas State and in the finals against Baylor. Locker went 1-1 in reining beating her Kansas State opponent by six points. The freshman also earned the overall reining MVP honors for Saturday’s games.

In horsemanship, freshman Lauren Love won both of her rides with one coming against Kansas State and the other against Baylor. Teammate Sarah Dunsmore scored the highest of any Georgia rider in horsemanship on Saturday with a 72.

“Sarah really went for it in both her rides which paid off in her scores,” said Veldman.

Also putting forth strong performances on both days was the talented string of Georgia horses.

“The other coaches thanked us for letting them ride such great horses,” said Newman. “That is a true reflection of our entire team, from the staff, to the riders and the donors and lender, for preparing and providing them."

The Bulldogs are now 3-0 in opening meets since competing under the NCAA format. Next up for Georgia is South Carolina on Friday, October 6. Competition is set to begin at 2:00 p.m. at the Animal Science Arena.

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