There were eight teams at the beginning of competition on Friday, but by day's end only four squads remained standing. The second round of the 2017 NCEA Championship presented by the City of Waco and McLennan County featured three dominating performances and one historic upset.
No. 9 seed TCU defeated top-seed Baylor in an exciting matchup, and the Horned Frogs now find themselves in the semifinals. With Baylor's loss, this year will be the first time under the current postseason format that the No. 1 seed won't be playing in the championship final.
Georgia, Auburn and Texas A&M join TCU in Saturday's semifinals after putting together impressive performances in the second round.
(9) TCU 9, (1) Baylor 7
In the biggest shocker of the day, ninth-seeded TCU was able to pull off the upset against top-seeded Baylor. A big performance in Horsemanship led the Horned Frogs to the exciting, 9-7 victory.
The meet started in the Thomas Moore Feed Reining arena where Baylor claimed the first point with a win by Ginger Chant, who registered an event-high score of 137.5. However, the Horned Frogs captured three narrow wins to take the lead. Carly Montemuro defeated Charlotte Green, Brooke Boyle knocked off Elizabeth Shank and Carly Lombard beat Shyanne Smith to put TCU up, 3-1, after the first event.
The Horned Frogs were able to maintain their two-point lead with a solid performance in Equitation over Fences. Baylor's Alicia Gasser started the event with an event-high score of 174 to defeat Jayme Omand, but Carley Barnett, TCU's hero from the previous night, stepped up with a victory over Gabby Conte. Molly Peddicord added a win over Shannon Hogue to make it 5-2 before Savannah Jenkins ended fences with a 168-155 win over Patricia Gill.
TCU nearly clinched the meet in the next event, Horsemanship. Megan McMullen picked up a point against Kaylee Mellott, Laska Anderson came away with another one when she defeated Aspen Crew and Rylee Morgan just edged out Green to give the Horned Frogs an 8-3 lead. Abbi Demel kept the meet alive for the Bears when her score of 141.5 was enough to get past TCU's Josie Mootz.
"It was huge," TCU head coach Haley Schoolfield said of the Horsemanship performance. "We had some people in a tight spot, and they came up big when we needed them to. The energy was very high."
Auburn kept the momentum going to start the final event, Equitation on the Flat. Jenkins defeated Barnett, Gasser knocked off Omand and suddenly Baylor was within two points. Kari Hancock came up big for the Horned Frogs, though, using an event-high score of 172 to beat Rachel Van Allen and clinch the upset win for TCU. Baylor's Samantha Howell salvaged the final point of the meet with a win over Peddicord.
As a No. 6 seed last season, the Horned Frogs made a run all the way to the championship final. This season as the ninth seed, they have a ticket to the semifinals with an opportunity to do even more damage.
"It's the girls' tenacity," Schoolfield said of the reason for the recent postseason success. "They've worked pretty much nonstop for this week since spring break, and they haven't let up. They've trained hard and it's paying off for them."
(2) Georgia 12, (7) Fresno State 3
A solid, all-around performance was the key as Georgia picked up a 12-3 victory over Fresno State in the second round on Friday. In the "Battle of the Bulldogs" Georgia was able to hold a 6-2 lead at the halfway point, and continued to pull away from an experienced Fresno State team.
"Great feeling today," Georgia head coach Meghan Boenig said. "A lot of solid rides. It's always good when you can sit and watch, and then go out and perform."
In the Equitation over Fences arena, Sydney Hutchins came up with the first point for Georgia with a win over Fresno State's Natalie Wendt. Fresno's Alexandra Dirickson knotted things up with a slim win over Emma Mandarino. However, Liza Finsness and Meg O'Mara gave Georgia a 3-1 lead after one event with wins over Kylina Chalack and Madelyn Keck, respectively.
Georgia picked up another 3-1 win in the Thomas Moore Feed Reining arena to hold a commanding lead at the halfway point of the meet. Claudia Spreng knocked off Paige Barton and Lindsey Cheek defeated Shea Gilson. Graysen Stroud's event-high score of 139.5 beat Fresno's Taylor Brown before Taylor Dixon salvaged a point for Fresno State with a victory over Kyndall Harper.
After a tie between Maddie Newman of Georgia and Keck of Fresno State to begin Equitation on the Flat, Georgia used another surge to pull even further away. O'Mara picked up an 11-point win over Dirickson and Addyson Cord defeated Chalack to make it 8-2. It was then 9-2 after Finsness beat Sierra Swaffar, 164-150, to finish Equitation on the Flat.
Stroud was able to pick up another win, this time over Fresno State's Rachel Williams, and Payton Anderson also won her ride against Brown. Taeya Harle picked up the final point of the meet for Fresno State when she defeated Sammie Johnson. Bailey Anderson finished things off for Georgia with a 20.5-point victory over Dixon.
(3) Auburn 12, (6) South Carolina 4
The defending national champion Tigers received a bye on Thursday, and they faced a familiar foe on Friday as they started their title defense. SEC rival South Carolina was coming off a dominating win over South Dakota State in the first round, but Auburn started strong and defeated the Gamecocks, 12-4.
The Tigers started the meet strongly in the Equitation over Fences arena with a sweep of the Gamecocks. Ashley Foster began things with a big victory over the Gamecocks' Madison Sellman before Hayley Iannotti knocked off Chloe Schmidt. Ashton Alexander defeated Sydney Smith by 14 points before Caitlin Boyle's event-high score of 179 was enough for another 14-point victory over Lizzie van der Walde.
Over in the Thomas Moore Feed Reining arena, the Tigers were able to extend their lead. Auburn's Blair McFarlin outscored Bailey Walters, 141-140.5, before Jordan Scott gave South Carolina its first point with a half-point victory over Alexa Rivard. Auburn would make it 7-1 at the halfway point with wins by Lauren Diaz and Betsy Brown.
Auburn would add another sweep in the third event, Equitation on the Flat. Iannotti and Foster both scored 179 on their rides to defeat their respective opponents. Alexander added a 175 to knock off South Carolina's Smith and Tory Hoft wrapped up the sweep with a defeat of van der Walde.
"They've been riding really well," Auburn head coach Greg Williams said of his team. "They came here to win, and they just got on a roll."
After Kara Kaufmann defeated Bailey Mierzejewski to begin Horsemanship, South Carolina was able to end the meet on a strong note with three consecutive wins. Ashley Reichert, Maddie Thiel and Paige Stopperich were all victorious to end Horsemanship for the Gamecocks.
It's always tough to play a conference opponent in the postseason, but Williams said it also allowed his team to focus after receiving a bye to open things on Thursday.
"Every time you go up against (SEC), you're going up against one of the best teams in the country," Williams noted. "There's just no one easy in the SEC to play. The only thing that helped us is we came in there ready to go just because it was another SEC team."
(5) Texas A&M 14, (4) Oklahoma State 1
Oklahoma State came into its meet against Texas A&M as the team with the bye and the higher seed, but it was all Aggies in the second round matchup on Friday. Texas A&M was able to put it all together for a commanding, 14-1 defeat of the Cowgirls.
Texas A&M jumped out to a quick lead in the Thomas Moore Feed Reining arena. The Aggies' Haley Franc claimed the first point with a victory over Alexa Beaty before Sarah Kate Grider made it 2-0 with a victory over Danielle Cohen. Texas A&M's Jaci Marley came up with a win over the Cowgirls' Hannah Mitchell, but Ebba Lange was able to stop the Aggies from completing the sweep when the Oklahoma State junior tied with Sarah McEntire.
In Equitation over Fences, Rachael Hake upended Katie Jones and Rebekah Chenelle cruised by Hannah Janson to give the Aggies a 5-0 advantage to start. Jorden Davis picked up Oklahoma State's first point with a big victory over Alex Desiderio of Texas A&M. However, Haley Webster made it a five-point advantage again with a victory over Carly Barrick to cap the event.
The Aggies were able to put the meet away in Horsemanship with four excellent rides that resulted in scores of 141.5 or higher. Sarah Orsak defeated Maddie Bender, Kaci Fisher dispatched Miranda Reed and Bailey Cook beat Kirsten Chamberland. Avery Ellis completed the Horsemanship sweep with a five-point win over Libby Collins, and Texas A&M led, 10-1, heading into the final event, Equitation on the Flat.
In that event, the Aggies put together another fantastic showing to cap things off. Desiderio defeated Kendall Pedigo and Anna Rea beat Barrick. Maddie Swem and Chenelle pushed past Maggie Drysch and Davis, respectively, to finish off another sweep.