COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The No. 1 Auburn equestrian team put together a solid showing on the first day of the 2019 SEC Championship, defeating fourth-seed South Carolina Friday afternoon, 13-7. The two-day meet is being held on the campus of Texas A&M at the Hildebrand Equine Complex.
"Winning is so special in the SEC Championship," head coach Greg Williams said. "Any team here can go toe-to-toe with any team in the country, so while it is a gauntlet to run, the wins are special. Ever since this sport has moved to this format, the national title has been won by one of these SEC teams."
With the win, the Tigers (14-0) advanced to the SEC Championship title match and will face host and No. 3 seed Texas A&M Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CT. No. 2 seed Georgia and the Gamecocks will face off for the consolation earlier in the morning.
A big takeaway from today was the performance from senior Caitlin Boyle. The Hampshire, Ill., product was tied with former Tiger Elizabeth Benson (2012-16) with 52 career wins in Equitation Over Fences. With her huge score of 261, Boyle surpassed Benson's record to become the winningest rider in event in program history. She also picked up MOP honors for her win.
"Elizabeth Benson was one of the greatest riders to compete in college," Williams said. "Having her record broken is obviously a special thing. The magnitude of the SEC Championship, however, is taking precedence so we will let it sink in later."
The Tigers opened up the meet with a 7-3 lead following Horsemanship and Fences.
The Horsemanship corps finished 4-1 over the Gamecocks. Sophomore Deanna Green kicked off the event with a 214.5-212 victory and was followed by another 214.5 from senior Kelsey Jung, securing another team point. Sophomore Taylor Searles followed with a 203.5-171.5 victory over Mackenzie Michaels and junior Kara Kaufmann earned Auburn's final point in the event with 202 points.
Fences was led by a trio of seniors, starting with a big 255-203 victory from Hayley Iannotti. Ashton Alexander followed with a 253-120 win and Boyle capped the event with her record-breaking victory.
Equitation on the Flat finished the day with a 4-1 mark over the Gamecocks. Freshman McKayla Langmeier extended her undefeated streak with a 244-228 victory and was followed by another big score from Boyle as she won 250-237. Alexander picked up MOP honors with 263 points in her win and freshman Emma Kurtz closed out the event with a 258-245 victory.
The Reining corps picked up two victories for the Tigers. Senior Betsy Brown bested Bridgett White, 210.5-208.5, and Green finished the day undefeated with a 211.5-210 win.