BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. - It was another big day for the Auburn equestrian team as the Tigers captured the program's fifth consecutive Southeastern Conference title on Saturday afternoon.
The top-seeded Tigers downed No. 2 seed Texas A&M, 13-6, at One Wood Farm in Blythewood, South Carolina.
"This team is unbelievable," head coach Greg Williams said. "They brought the energy today and it was just another special championship for our team. To win five straight is remarkable and I'm so proud of all the hard work and effort that went in to win today."
"With this season being my last, it's really been an emotional ride," fifth year Emma Kurtz said. "To know that the work we've put in has paid off is one of the most incredible feelings in the world. I'm so proud of this team for buying into the program and I'm so thankful for our coaches who push us to be better every day."
"It means the world to win another championship with this team," senior Olivia Tordoff said. "I wholeheartedly believe the SEC is the hardest conference and to win in this conference truly means more. Seeing this group come together the way we did today is something really special. This win is for those who paved the way before us and for the next group to be a part of this team."
The championship win is the team's sixth in the Southeastern Conference (2016, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023) since the league began sponsoring the sport in 2013.
"I think it shows that we're doing things right," Williams said. "It has become a part of the whole culture here. It shows in the way we go about our business day in and day out."
Tordoff was placed on the SEC All-Championship team after going 2-0-0 in Horsemanship. Kurtz as well as senior Ava Stearns and junior Ellie Ferrigno all went undefeated in Jumping Seat action for the Tigers.
"I was lucky to have two good rides this weekend, but ultimately my teammates are the reason I was able to do that," Tordoff said. "I've had some bad luck this year and my teammates just continued to pull me up and build my confidence. That's what makes us a championship caliber team. I just wanted to ride for them this week and put it all on the line for them."
"I really feel like I thrive under pressure and live for big moments like those this weekend," Kurtz added. "I'm so grateful for the amazing horses I was able to ride. In this sport, dominant performances are just as dependent on the horse as they are on the rider and I'm thankful I got to put up big numbers for my team."
The Tigers (11-2) had three Most Outstanding Performer honors for the championship meet. Kurtz won Fences, while Ferrigno took Flat. Junior Madison Parduhn won her first MOP of the season in Horsemanship.
The Jumping Seat corps put together a dominating performance overall, going 8-1-1 between Fences and Flat.
"Our Jumping Seat squad really came out today," Williams said. "They went at it hard and took it to them. And the Western side had a great showing as well. I have two of the best position coaches in the business in Jessica Braswell and Taylor Searles. This team earned them today and wouldn't be as successful without them."
Fences led things off with a 4-0-1 mark against the Aggies in the first half. Kurtz's MOP win came first as she downed Haley Redifer, 263-235. Sophomore Sophee Steckbeck followed with 246 points in her win, while Ferrigno earned her 11th win of the season in the event with a 245.
Sophomore Mary-Grace Segars tied Morgan Rosia, 242-242, and Stearns capped Fences with a 246-245 edge over Brooke Brombach. Auburn's Flat crew put together a 4-1-0 mark in the second half for the squad. Ferrigno's MOP ride gave her a 250 to beat her opponent before Kurtz bested Maggie Nealon, 252-248.
Segars bested Brombach, 240-233, and Stearns gave Auburn it's championship winning point with a 239-228 win.
In Western, Horsemanship earned a 3-2 win in the second half of the meet for the Tigers. Olivia Tordoff scored a 225.5 to defeat her opponent by 18.5 points.
Parduhn's 216 topped Ella Gerbrandt's 205 to give her the MOP win on her birthday and freshman Caroline Fredenburg finished out her excellent showing in the tournament with a 223.5-221 edge over Alexis Robinson.
Auburn's Reining squad got two points during the first half of the meet. Freshman Caroline Buchanan bested Lisa Bricker by two (208.5-206.5) and junior Isabella Tesmer finished her undefeated weekend with a 190.5-0 victory.
The Tigers look to close out the season with another championship as the team will head to Ocala, Florida for the 2023 NCEA Championship. The three-day meet will be held April 13-15 at the World Equestrian Center and Auburn will once again be the host team.
#1 SEED AUBURN 13, #2 SEED TEXAS A&M 6
Emma Kurtz (AU)* def. Haley Redifer (TAMU), 263-235
Sophee Steckbeck (AU) def. Devon Thomas (TAMU), 246-230
Ellie Ferrigno (AU) def. Alexa Leong (TAMU), 245-234
Mary-Grace Segars (AU) tied Morgan Rosia (TAMU), 242-242
Ava Stearns (AU) def. Brooke Brombach (TAMU), 246-245
Ellie Ferrigno (AU)* def. Rylee Schufelt (TAMU), 250-0
Emma Kurtz (AU) def. Maggie Nealon (TAMU), 252-248
Mary-Grace Segars (AU) def. Brooke Brombach (TAMU), 240-233
Ava Stearns (AU) def. Devon Thomas (TAMU), 239-228
Devan Thomas (TAMU) def. Sophee Steckbeck (AU), 215-200
Cori Cansdale (TAMU) def. Maddie Spak (AU), 225-211.5
Olivia Tordoff (AU) def. Ella Petak (TAMU), 225.5-207
Hanna Olaussen (TAMU) def. Alexia Tordoff (AU), 225-216
Madison Parduhn (AU)* def. Ellie Gerbrandt (TAMU), 216-205
Caroline Fredenburg (AU) def. Alexis Robinson (TAMU), 223.5-221
Caroline Buchanan (AU) def. Lisa Bricker (TAMU), 208.5-206.5
Emmy Lu Marsh (TAMU) def. Alexia Tordoff (AU), 206-203
Lauren Hanson (TAMU) def. Kate Buchanan (AU), 203.5-202.5
Isabella Tesmer (AU) def. Ariana Gray (TAMU), 190.5-0
Keesa Luers (TAMU)* def. Olivia Marino (AU), 208.5-202.5