WACO, Texas - There are seven championships up for grabs on the culminating day of the 2018 National Collegiate Equestrian Association Championship.
And, it’s quite possible Auburn could win them all.
Less than 24 hours after qualifying for the finals in the team competition, the Tigers put together another strong day in all four event brackets, sending teams to the finals in Equitation on the Flat, Equitation over the Fences, Horsemanship and Reining. Because of the points scored in those events, Auburn is the favorite to win the Western and Hunt Seat discipline titles as well.
That could mean seven trophies by the time Saturday wraps up at the Extraco Events Center in Waco.
“There’s a lot of good teams and a lot of good riders and it’s extremely hard to be qualified for everything. But I did know that they were good enough, I absolutely did know that,” Auburn coach Greg Williams said.
The Tigers face Georgia in the team championship along with Equitation on the Flat and Horsemanship event finals. It’ll be Auburn versus Oklahoma State in Equitation over Fences, while a battle with Texas A&M looms in Reining.
Despite all the success in the event brackets, Williams isn’t letting his team lose focus on the ultimate prize. Auburn won the 2016 team crown but fell short to Georgia last April in the semifinals.
The Tigers and Bulldogs will waste no time deciding who the best team in collegiate equestrian is as the action starts at 8:30 a.m.
“Our biggest thing is we just want to win the national championship. That’s our biggest focus and we’re not going to take our eye off that ball,” Williams said. “We get that done and we’re going to look forward to spending the afternoon trying to win some more titles.”
Oklahoma State Excited for Shot at Fences Title
One false move could have cost Oklahoma State a shot at making the finals of the Equitation over Fences final on Friday.
Fortunately, the Cowboys made all the right moves on the way to edging Texas A&M to reach the event championship.
“We just scored enough points in the right places,” Oklahoma State coach Larry Sanchez said. “The girls went out and really stepped up their game and rode at a high level and the judges appreciated the rides they put together and awarded them with the points that carried them through to the championship.”
After a 3-1 win over SMU in the quarterfinals, the Cowboys and Aggies battled to a 2-2 deadlock in wins, forcing a raw score decision. The margin was a mere four points as Oklahoma State won 643-639.
A lot is still left to be decided Saturday at the NCEA Championship. But one thing is certain – the SEC is still king.
For the sixth straight year, the league will have a member finish as the sport’s national champion. Overall, the SEC has 15 titles since the NCEA was sanctioned in 2002.
“We’re constantly sharpening each other and that kind of competition forces you to grow,” Georgia coach Meghan Boenig said. The Bulldogs are going for their seventh title. “It’s an incredible conference day-in and day-out, and it’s so competitive and we’re just thrilled to be able to represent at the NCEA this way.”