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    SEC Saturday Equestrian Roundup

    No. 6 Georgia Takes Down No. 9 Texas A&M

    COLLEGE STATION, Texas- The No. 6 Georgia equestrian team grabbed a 10-9 win over the No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday afternoon at the Brazos County Expo Complex in College Station, Texas. With the victory, Georgia improves to 7-2 on the season with a 3-1 record in Southeastern Conference action. Texas A&M drops to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in conference play.
    “It felt great to come away with the win and three MOPs,” said Head Coach Meghan Boenig, “There are still several things we need to work on as we get ready for South Carolina. I feel that we have improved greatly since UT-Martin and I’m excited to continue to get better this week. I am proud of this team today and I think we are heading in the right direction.”
    Along with the win Anna Sasser, Liza Finsness, and McKenzie Lantz each took home MOP honors. Sasser earned the title with a 75-74.5 win over Caroline Ammons in Horsemanship. Finsness earned her fifth MOP of the season in Equitation on the Flat, defeating Hannah Williams 83-79. Lantz picked up the honors in Reining, recording a 75-72.5 decision over Sarah Kate Grider.
    The Bulldogs dropped a 3-2 decision to the Aggies in Equitation Over Fences. Finsness secured the first point of the event with an 86-74 win over Kimmy Saul.  Abby O’Mara then gave Georgia a 2-0 advantage after defeating Shelby Lawson 84-80. Texas A&M battled back and used winning rides by Leah Chenelle and Marlena Parker to knot the score 2-2. The Aggies sealed the 3-2 win with an 87-point ride by Williams.
    In Horsemanship, the Bulldogs and the Aggies rode to a 2-2 tie. Heather Schmidt picked up Georgia’s first point, defeating A&M’s Laura Brainard 72-70.5. Sasser continued the momentum with her MOP ride, earning 75 points over Ammon’s 74.5.  With Georgia up 2-0, Texas A&M’s Logan Pluhar rode to a 73-70.5 decision before Rachel Lucht brought the score to 2-2. With the final point up for grabs, Paige Stawicki and Texas A&M’s Molli Jacobs rode to a 77-point tie, giving the Aggies a 5-4 advantage at the half.
    Georgia secured the first three points in Equitation on the Flat on its way to a 4-1 victory in the event. Kylee Arbuckle put up a score of 82 over Paige Russell’s 81 for the Aggies. Olivia Dorey notched an 82-71 win over Haley Buckmiller. Finsness grabbed the third-straight point for the Bulldogs with an MOP-earning 83-79 win over Williams.  The Aggies’ lone point came from Parker. In the fifth spot, Megan Southam locked up the 4-1 win with a 78-76 decision over Megan Phillips. The Bulldogs led the Aggies 8-6 with one event left. 
    In Reining, the Aggies took the first point as Laura Sumrall outscored Lauren Garmon 72.5-71.5. Lantz answered with a 75-72.5 win over Grider and was awarded MOP honors for the ride. With a point a piece, Texas A&M’s Ashley Dotson posted a narrow 73-72.5 victory before Claudia Spreng evened the score edging Lindsey Bernbaum 72-71.5. Texas A&M came away with the 3-2 win in the event when Ashley Skold earned a 71-66.5 victory 
    Georgia equestrian will host its first meet of the spring schedule, welcoming top-ranked South Carolina to the UGA Equestrian Center in Bishop, Ga., Saturday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m.


    No. 1 South Carolina Defeats No. 4 New Mexico State, 12-8

    LAS CRUCES, N.M. - No. 1 South Carolina opened the spring portion of its schedule on Saturday with a 12-8 win over No. 4 New Mexico State at the New Mexico State Equestrian Center. South Carolina improves to 7-2 overall, while the Aggies fall to 7-3.

    Both the hunt seat and western teams won, 6-4, respectively.

    "This was a tough win for us today, so I was really proud to see that we kept fighting, especially late in the meet," South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. "New Mexico State proved today that they deserve their No. 4 ranking, so we certainly tip our hats to their riders because they showed up today and I thought they rode well. But the meet came down to the reining, and that's a group that has shined for us all season, and I was proud of them for coming through for us today."

    The Gamecocks jumped out to an early lead on Saturday, winning four of five points in equitation over fences. Sophomore Samantha Kraus won the first of four straight points for Carolina when she knocked off New Mexico State's Emily McConnell, 86-75. Junior Amber Henter won the first of her two points when she cruised past Julie Frey, 82-71, giving the hunt seat captain her seventh jumping point of the season. A late addition to the Carolina lineup on Saturday, junior Alexa Anthony shined, posting an event-high score 87 to beat the Aggies' Shannon Dooley, 87-83. Anthony was named MVP of the event, her first career jumping MVP and third of the season. Junior Samantha Smith gave the Gamecocks a 4-0 lead when she edged NMSU's Amber Tassel, 85-84. The Aggies avoided the sweep when New Mexico State's Elizabeth Solomon won her point, 79-75.

    In the western arena, New Mexico State put a slight dent in the Gamecocks' lead, winning three of five horsemanship points to give South Carolina a 6-4 lead at the halfway point.

    After New Mexico State won the first horsemanship point, senior Alison Ceresani won her first MVP of the season, posting an event-high score 74 to defeat her opponent by three points. The Aggies won two of the final three points, but Carolina senior Johnna Letchworth edged NMSU's Lauren DeVoe, 73-71.

    Trailing 6-4 at the halfway point of Saturday's meet, New Mexico State again closed the gap on South Carolina, winning three of five points in equitation on the flat.

    The Aggies won the first flat point to cut the Gamecocks' lead to 6-5, but Henter and Adele Norton posted back-to-wins to make the score 8-5. Henter, making her flat debut for the season after being added to the lineup on Saturday morning, defeated New Mexico State's Dooley, 79-71. Norton followed with the second-highest score of the event, knocking off the Aggies' McConnell, 81-69. Norton, a Virginia native, is 4-0 this season in equitation on the flat. All four of her wins have come on the road.

    Holding an 8-7 lead heading into reining, Saturday's meet looked as if it might be headed for the 10-10 tie that happened Oct. 29, 2011, when the Gamecocks and Aggies last faced off in a dual meet.

    New Mexico State won the first reining point to tie the score at 8-8. But a pair of back-to-back zeroes by the Aggies proved costly, as Carolina won the final four points of the meet.

    Sophomore Sarah Bouchard picked up her fourth point of the season when she defeated the Aggies' Marissa Bartman, who scored a zero for her ride. Needing to beat the 64 that Gamecock junior Cody McMillion posted, New Mexico State's Stefanie Story also zeroed, giving South Carolina a 10-8 lead and clinching the win if the meet had gone to a tiebreaker. Junior Layla Choate followed by winning her team-leading eighth reining point of the season, as she edged the Aggies' Haley Newkirk, 68-66.5. Senior Jordan Brown closed out the meet by defeating Brynn Larson in a re-ride, 68-66.

    South Carolina (1-2 SEC) will look to get its SEC record back to the .500 mark next Saturday, when the Gamecocks travel to face Georgia at the UGA Equestrian Complex. In the fall meeting between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs, Georgia won, 10-9, in Blythewood.