The University of Georgia Bulldogs put together a true team effort and captured the 2021 National Championship crown, defeating No. 4 SMU, 9-7, in the Extraco Events Center on Saturday afternoon.
The national title marks Georgia’s seventh overall and is the most of any program in NCEA history.
“What an incredible day with terrific rides,” Georgia head coach Meghan Boenig said. “This team is so deserving and there are so many emotions running high. To SMU- they rode their hearts out and made it difficult for us. This group, particularly our seniors came out here after SECs and said, ‘We are not done. This is not how our story ends.’ What a special day and a day to celebrate. I am so proud of this team and everything they’ve accomplished.”
“I feel privileged and honored to be able to ride in the first half with Flat starting off the meet,” senior Ali Tritschler said. “We started off really strong. Flat has had a great showing here at nationals. That’s felt really good on its own and to get the team off on the right foot definitely felt good. We watched Horsemanship give it their all and the points just didn’t fall their way, but we were so proud of what they did. We knew we had to go into Fences and close every single door. Everyone did that. Then we got to go cheer on Reining and there is no one more capable of wrapping up a meet like those girls. They’re usually at the end and pressure doesn’t phase them. Pressure is a privilege to everyone, but especially to them, and it came down to the last point.”
The Flat squad opened competition with beautiful, high-scoring rides to give Georgia an early 3-1 lead. Senior Hayley Mairano led off for Georgia with a 244-214 win to put Georgia on the board. SMU took the next point before Georgia grabbed the last two of the event. Senior Isabelle Heckler remained undefeated with a 248-233 point for the Bulldogs, followed by senior Ali Tritschler defeating her opponent 251-238.
SMU evened the score in Horsemanship, taking three points by tight score margins. Freshman Leah Anderson earned the Bulldogs’ lone point of the event with a 221-218.5 win on Brady.
Georgia regained momentum in Fences, jumping to claim three more points. The Bulldogs dropped the first point of the event before Mairano laid down a beautiful course, earning a 259-237 win. In her final ride wearing the Red and Black, Tritschler rode to a 262 with a huge smile on her face. Freshman Jordan Toering finished the event, giving Georgia a cushion, with a 258-234 win.
Needing two points to claim the title, the Reining squad finished the drill. After SMU took the first point of the event to make the score, 7-6, Lindsay Guynn edged her opponent by half a point to add to the Bulldogs’ total. SMU stayed alive by grabbing one more point. It came down to the final ride with Courtney Blumer topping her opponent 214.5-211.5.
“I can’t wrap my head around what happened today,” Tritschler said. “The energy was incredible. Every day is a great day to be a Georgia Bulldog, but today it just solidifies all of the work we put in. This is for everyone who has touched this program. All of the work put in has led to this moment and will lead into the future. It’s so rewarding not only for the girls here, but for the girls at home, the girls in the past and the ones who will come after.”
“Our motto this year has been ‘For My Dawgs’ and whenever I went in the arena I was thinking about all of the girls who came back for this year, this moment,” Courtney Blumer said. “I’m so glad that we won the championship for them- for my dawgs.”
“History has told me it’s never done until it’s done so I’m not surprised it came down to the final ride,” Boenig added.