AUBURN, Ala. — The top-ranked Auburn equestrian team welcomed Texas A&M, Georgia and South Carolina to the Auburn University Horse Center for the 2017 SEC Championship on Friday morning.
Then the Tigers started the two-day weekend tournament off by defeating the Aggies in the day’s opening semifinal meet.
Though Auburn concluded its regular season with a road win in College Station, Tex., in early March, another back-and-forth meet unfolded on the Plains.
Similarly to the last meeting, Auburn began the day with a 3-2 victory in Equitation over Fences. Hayley Iannotti posted a team-high 173 while Ashton Alexander and Caitlyn Boyle added scores of 167 and 165 to secure the win in the event.
The Aggies rebounded with a win in Horsemanship. While Kelsey Jung and Lauren Diaz won their individual competitions, Auburn was outscored by Texas A&M’s Bailey Cook (149.5), Sarah Orsak (153) and Kaci Fisher (155).
After that, it was on to Equitation on the flat — and that’s when Auburn surged slightly ahead.
Senior Tory Hoft started strong, scoring a 152 on her opening ride. Ashley Foster added a score of 160 and Caitlyn Boyle closed out the first half of the event with a score of 157. Texas A&M regained the lead with the help of Rebekah Chenelle, who gave the Aggies a 6-5 lead by topping Tory Hoft with a score of 157. The visitors, however, couldn’t hold on to that lead.
Hayley Iannotti and Ashton Alexander earned a combined score of 303 as the final two riders on the flat, giving Auburn another event win.
As Equitation on the flat came to a close, Auburn began the day’s final event: reining.
Through the first half of the last event, Auburn (2,308) held a comfortable 9-6 overall point lead on the Aggies (2,184). As two more Texas A&M riders sped through the event, the lead shrank to 9-8. Auburn’s Alexa Rivard outscored Jaci Marley 142.5-140, extending the Tigers’ lead to 10-8.
Texas A&M finished by securing a win in the reigning event, but didn’t total enough points to regain an overall lead.
With an 11-9 victory, Auburn earned its second-straight win over Texas A&M, and the Tigers advanced to the championship match.
This afternoon the Bulldogs and the Gamecocks will compete to see who will advance and face the Tigers in Saturday’s championship match (set for 1:30 p.m. CT). Through the regular season, Auburn defeated Texas A&M and South Carolina twice, but was twice edged by Georgia. Auburn is looking to earn its second-straight conference title.
Following the SEC Championship, Auburn will prepare for the NCEA Championships in Waco, Texas. The multi-day postseason event is scheduled for April 13-15 at the Extraco Events Center.