The Georgia equestrian team was crowned SEC Champions, NCEA Reserve National Champions, and hit 150 wins in program history during the 2016-17 season.
The Bulldogs began and finished the 2016-17 season ranked as the No. 2 team in the country, after riding to a 13-5 overall record. The Bulldogs went 4-4 in the fall, dropped one meet to begin the spring schedule, then went on a five-meet win streak to conclude the regular season, defeating all three SEC opponents in that time frame.
Georgia received the No. 1 seed for the SEC Championship and topped South Carolina, 13-7, to advance to the final round to face Auburn for a rematch of the 2016 championship. Tied at eight points each with three rides remaining, Georgia defeated Auburn, 10-9, to claim the championship title. It is the second title for the Bulldogs since the sport was officially sponsored by the SEC in 2013.
As the No. 2 seed, the Bulldogs advanced to the championship round of the NCEA National Championship by defeating Fresno State and Auburn, before falling to Texas A&M in the finals.
“This has been an incredible season with so many improvements across the board,” head coach Meghan Boenig said. “The leadership within the team to ‘Out Work. Out Ride. Out Last.’ has been something very special. I’m so proud of this team’s accomplishments and how we finished the season. This builds an incredible framework for our program for next year. Of course, it’s always hard to say goodbye to our seniors, but we’re excited about welcoming a very strong freshman class for next year. We grew throughout the year and I hope to maintain that growth going forward into next season.”
Georgia went 6-0 at home, improving its all-time at-home record to 65-6. The Bulldogs defeated six ranked opponents during the regular season, including three upset victories- twice against Auburn and once against Texas A&M. For the sixth time in program history, Georgia swept Auburn in regular season competition.
Georgia riders earned a combined total of 38 MOP honors on the season with senior Meg O’Mara leading the way in Equitation on the Flat and Equitation Over Fences, earning six honors in each event.
The Bulldogs picked up four SEC and three NCEA Rider of the Month honors. O’Mara earned SEC Rider of the Month once for her performances in Equitation Over Fences and twice for Equitation on the Flat. Claudia Spreng picked up honors after her performances in Reining during the month of February. O’Mara also earned two national monthly honors, one in each Hunt Seat event, while Kyndall Harper was named NCEA Reining Rider of the Month in January.
After leading her team to a SEC Championship, head coach Meghan Boenig was named SEC Coach of the Year for the third year running. Senior Meg O’Mara was named SEC Rider of the Year for Equitation on the Flat and Equitation Over Fences, while Sydney Hutchins was named SEC Freshman Rider of the Year in both Hunt Seat events. Additionally, four Bulldogs claimed six spots on All-SEC Teams. Earning All-SEC accolades were O’Mara (Equitation on the Flat, Equitation Over Fences), Bailey Anderson (Horsemanship), and Spreng (Reining), while Hutchins (Flat, Fences) was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Georgia had five riders earn seven NCEA All-America honors. O’Mara was named First-Team All-American in Equitation on the Flat and Equitation Over Fences. Senior Liza Finsness was named a Second-Team All-American in Equitation Over Fences and received Honorable Mention in Equitation on the Flat. Junior Bailey Anderson earned Second-Team All-America Honors in Horsemanship. Senior Claudia Spreng and sophomore Graysen Stroud were named First-and-Second-Team All-Americans, respectively, in Reining.
Additionally, the Bulldogs placed 11 riders on the NCEA Academic All-America Teams. First-Team Academic All-Americans were junior Bailey Anderson, sophomore Madison Anger, senior Liza Finsness, junior Kyndall Harper, sophomore Emma Mandarino, and senior Charley Thiel. Sophomore Madison Newman and senior Claudia Spreng were selected to the Second-Team, while senior Lindsey Cheek and juniors Payton Anderson and Sammie Johnson received Honorable Mention.
CLICK HERE for the complete stats for the 2016-2017 Georgia equestrian team.