NATION'S TOP TWO EQUESTRIAN TEAMS MEET THIS WEEKEND
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The inaugural season of Southeastern Conference equestrian got underway last Saturday when Texas A&M defeated South Dakota State 15-5. This week, the league’s other three teams open their seasons, all at home.
The highlight of this week’s competition includes the first-ever conference equestrian meet in SEC history on Sunday in Bishop, Ga. It is also a meeting of the nation’s top-two teams as Texas A&M travels to Georgia. Both squads are currently tied for No. 1 in the nation, according to the latest equestrian coaches poll. The competition is slated for a 10 a.m. ET start Sunday.
The four equestrian squads of the SEC currently hold the top-four spots in the latest coaches poll. In addition to the top-ranked Aggies and Bulldogs, Auburn checks in at No. 3, while South Carolina ranks No. 4 nationally. The coaches poll will be released bi-monthly, with the next announcement scheduled for Oct. 3, 2012.
Auburn opens its 2012-13 season on Friday when No. 5 Oklahoma State travels to the Plains to take on the Tigers. The Cowgirls then venture to Blythewood, S.C., to help South Carolina open its season on Saturday. Oklahoma State is the defending Big-12 Conference Champion.
SEC EQUESTRIAN QUICK NOTES
• At the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., this past June, the decision was made for equestrian to become the conference’s 21st sport and the first to be added to the league since softball in 1997.
• Legislative action, which took place during the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, was necessary to allow for the addition of equestrian. Previously, one-third of league institutions would need to sponsor a sport in order for the conference to hold a championship event in that sport. With 12 members, that number was previous four institutions. With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, the new legislation will allow that number to remain at four for the sponsoring of new sports.
• Four members of the SEC - Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M - currently sponsor equestrian. The four current members of the SEC are the only teams in the history of the sport to win NCEA Overall Team National Championships.
• Georgia has tallied a league-leading five overall national championships, including three consecutive from 2008-10. Auburn, South Carolina and Texas A&M each have two overall national titles to their credit.
• Auburn University has been selected to play host to the inaugural Southeastern Conference equestrian championship. The event will take place March 29-30, 2013 at the Auburn University Horse Center.
• Texas A&M is the defending NCEA overall team national champion and has won four consecutive NCEA western championships.
• The three schools of the formerly 12-member SEC have been contesting a yearly Southern Equestrian Championship since 2003, which in 2012-13 will be replaced by the first-ever SEC Championship, involving all four schools.
• The Southern Equestrian Championships were held on campus sites on a rotating basis. Georgia won a league-leading six Southern Equestrian Championship titles, while Auburn captured three and South Carolina one.
LATEST EQUESTRIAN COACHES POLL
T1.Texas A&M (82)
4.South Carolina (61)
5.Oklahoma State (57)
7.Kansas State (35)
9.Fresno State (13)
10.New Mexico State (12)
With the season’s first meet less than a week away, the Auburn equestrian team is gearing up for another successful season. Coming off a top-five finish in both Hunt Seat and Western at the 2012 NCEA National Championships, the Tigers are excited to return many experienced riders, as well as welcome in a talented freshman class. Sophomore Jennifer Delman, junior Jennifer Waxman and senior Lindsay Portela look to lead in Hunt Seat, while juniors Cheyenne Cracraft and Stephanie Rucci and senior all-American Indy Roper will take the reins in Western. Auburn opens its fall portion of the season on Friday, Sept. 28, against Oklahoma State at the Auburn University Horse Center. The Tigers will also play host to new conference opponent Texas A&M and Georgia this fall and travel to South Carolina.
The top-ranked University of Georgia equestrian prepares for a showdown with defending national champion and Southeastern Conference newcomer Texas A&M on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 10 a.m., at the UGA Equestrian Center in Bishop, Ga. The meet features a pairing of the two teams that finished first and second last season and is the first-ever SEC equestrian match. Adding fuel to the fire for the meet, Georgia and Texas A&M are tied as the No. 1 team in the country. The meet marks the second-straight time that Georgia has opened its schedule with Texas A&M. Last season, the Aggies came away with a 13-10 lead, however the Bulldogs lead the all-time series 2-1. Georgia will look to its returning corps of riders, who finished with an overall record of 11-3 that included a 10-meet win streak during the regular season. Among the returners are All-Americans Carly Anthony and Megan Hawkins and All-American Honorable Mentions Abby O’Mara, Kylee Arbuckle, Maria Salazar, Paige Stawicki, Samantha Belcher and McKenzie Lantz.
The 2012-2013 season marks the 16th year of the South Carolina equestrian program as the Gamecocks were the first SEC school to sponsor equestrian as a varsity sport… The Gamecocks open up their 2012-2013 season on Saturday, Sept. 29 when South Carolina hosts defending Big-12 champion Oklahoma State at One Wood Farm in Blythewood, S.C… The Gamecocks held their preseason Garnet & Black scrimmage last Friday, a thrilling meet that the Garnet squad won, 10-9 ... South Carolina returns the core of its Hunt Seat team that went 12-2 last year, including senior Kimberly McCormack and sophomore Katherine Schmidt… Schmidt earned All-American honors as she led the entire nation with a 25-7 record last year, while also winning five MVP's… McCormack posted her third-straight year with at least 15 wins as she went 22-5 last year with five MVP's… Carolina's Western team returns a key group of upperclassmen who helped lead the squad to an 8-5 record last year… Redshirt junior Johnna Letchworth was named an All-American in horsemanship for the second straight year as she posted a 14-3 record and five MVP's, giving her a career record of 29-5-1 with nine MVP's… Seniors Audrey Jewell and Amanda Pope both posted nine wins each for the Gamecocks in reining last year, as freshmen Layla Choate and Cody McMillion combined to go 16-12-2 with four MVP's… South Carolina's freshman class led the team in both total wins and MVP's last year… The Gamecocks officially begin SEC play on Thursday, Oct. 4 when Carolina hosts Auburn at 2 p.m.
The No. 1 Aggies (1-0) posted a seventh-straight season opening win with a resounding 15-5 victory at South Dakota State this weekend with each discipline topping the Jackrabbits. Molli Jacobs (horsemanship) and Kat Barkema (fences) took MVP honors. The Aggies are on the quest for their 12th national championship and face off at fellow No. 1 school Georgia on Sunday in A&M’s SEC debut.