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After riding to a 10-10 tie, the University of Georgia equestrian team defeated the Texas A&M Aggies in raw score, 4415-4299.5, to advance to the Southeastern Conference championship finals.
What started as a gloomy day due to inclement weather and schedule changes turned out to be a thrilling one for the Bulldogs. Down 10-9 with one ride remaining, junior Sara Lewis topped her opponent, 211.5- 197, to claim the win and advance Georgia to the SEC Championship Finals for the sixth time in seven seasons.
The second-seeded Bulldogs will face the No. 1 seed Auburn Tigers on Saturday, March 27 at 2:30 p.m. at the UGA Equestrian Complex. Auburn beat South Carolina, 13-6, to advance to the championship.
“We are very excited to be moving onto tomorrow, what a big fight we had today,” Georgia head coach Meghan Boenig said. “Texas A&M is a great school, we know we will have to continue to fight tomorrow to take home the championship, but boy is there a willingness to go out there and do so. This entire team is riding for last year’s team- for everybody here who didn’t have the opportunity. We know this is a huge privilege to be able to compete. We are looking forward to competing again tomorrow.”
Scores for the championship are calculated as the sum from three judges.
After weather altered the original plan for competition, the Bulldogs started the day in the Flat arena with Texas A&M taking a 3-2 advantage. The Aggies claimed the first point of the event before senior Ali Tritschler put Georgia on the board with a 231- 195 win. The next ride went to Texas A&M and senior Isabelle Heckler followed with a 228-214 point for the Bulldogs. The Aggies grabbed the final point of Flat.
Meanwhile in the Western arena, Georgia evened the overall score by edging Texas A&M, 3-2. Georgia won the first three points with victorious rides from senior Jordan Carpenter, junior Lindsay Guynn, and junior Courtney Blumer. Texas A&M won the last two points to make it 5-5 after two events.
Continuing competition in Fences, the Bulldogs and Aggies alternated points throughout the event. Senior Hayley Mairano earned the first point before A&M took the second. Tritschler added to the Bulldogs total and sophomore Ceci Bresch finished the event with another point for the Red and Black.
Holding a one-point advantage, the Bulldogs dropped the first two Horsemanship points to give the Aggies the lead with three points remaining. Georgia’s freshman Leah Anderson evened the score once again. Texas A&M grabbed the next point, putting pressure Lewis to keep the Bulldogs in the meet. Lewis responded with the win to finish competition tied, 10-10.
Georgia won the meet in raw score calculations and advance to the SEC Championship finals.
Texas A&M and South Carolina will meet in a consolation round on Saturday, March 27 at 9 a.m., before the Bulldogs and Tigers compete to determine the SEC Champion at 2:30 p.m. ET.