Thought you’d like to know . . . the University of Georgia won a national championship Saturday night.
The Bulldogs, for the third year in a row and the fifth time in eight years, won the national title in equestrian.
UGA beat runnerup Texas A&M in a tiebreaker to win the overall title at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships in Waco, Texas.
The victory continued the remarkable success of Georgia’s equestrian program, which in its brief eight-year history already has amassed more national team championships than any UGA sport except gymnastics (10), men’s tennis (8) and women’s tennis (also 5). (Tennis championships include indoor and outdoor.)
Twenty-three Division I and II college athletics programs compete in equestrian, which is classified as an emerging sport by the NCAA.
Georgia equestrian coach Meghan Boenig’s reaction to her team’s latest championship (from a UGA release late Saturday night):
“This was just an incredible day and, I believe, the most special, most meaningful championship we’ve won so far. It was harder this year because the competition was so fierce. We had to fight for everything we got.”
Georgia also claimed two individual championships in Saturday’s competition: Michelle Morris won the title in Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat, and Emma Lipman won the Equitation over Fences event. Both Morris and Lipman are sophomores.
In the team standings, Georgia and Texas A&M were tied after the Bulldogs won the Hunt Seat competition and finished fourth in the Western competition and the Aggies won the Western and finished fourth in Hunt Seat. The tie triggered a rideoff for the championship –- four head-to-head dual matches, one per event.
The teams split the four dual matches, with Georgia winning the championship on the basis of its 603.5-579 advantage in the aggregate raw scores of the events. The victory margin came from Morris’ 174-144 decision in her event.
“The girls were under such difficult circumstances [in the rideoff]. It was difficult enough to pick the right four riders, and I mostly went on just gut feeling. But I knew that any rider I chose was capable of making a standout impression.
“Michelle’s ride was great and it certainly put us in a favorable position, but we still needed three strong rides to maintain our margin. And we got them.”
For background on Georgia’s equestrian program, see this AJC article from last month.