MARTIN, Tenn. - Excitement was in the air Saturday at the Ned McWherter Agricultural Pavilion. Hoisting up the UEC Championship trophy for the second season in a row, the No. 6 SMU Mustangs topped the No. 10 Fresno State Bulldogs, 14-2 (2405.5-2238), to successfully defend their 2018 title and make history in the meantime.
he final round of 2019 competition was a repeat of the same two squads facing off in Dallas last season at the 2018 Final. In cinematic fashion, top-seed SMU once again edged out third-seed Fresno State, becoming the first team in UEC history to win a tournament trophy twice and the first team to earn back-to-back league championships.
Upon winning, head coach Carol Gwin said she was especially grateful for the support of the SMU family.
"I just want to say how proud I am of our student-athletes and congratulate them on being conference champions for the second year in a row," Gwin said. "First and foremost, I want to thank our school president Dr. Turner, athletic director Rick Hart, and associate athletic director Kris Harris for the tremendous support they've given to our program since I came here in 2014. Without the incredible support from SMU and our administration, we wouldn't be standing here today as back-to-back conference champions so we're grateful to be surrounded by an excellent group of administrators and support staff who have supported us from day one and helped make this moment possible."
Gwin expressed immense appreciation for her coaching staff and the hard work of her student-athletes, as well.
"We had two good weeks of practice, and I want to thank both of my coaches, McKenzie Lantz and Amber Henter for having our girls ready to go this weekend," Gwin said. "Winning on the road is very hard to do in our sport, but our kids came in here this weekend with the goal of wanting to win another conference championship and it's awesome to see all of their hard work pay off."
Only allowing two Bulldog points in the dominant SMU conquest, the Mustangs put the cherry on top of the conference win by sweeping all of the event points in both Reining and Equitation Over Fences, 4-0.
Additionally, SMU riders combined to earn all four MOP accolades. Vivian Yowan (Fences) earned her fifth MOP of the season (13th career), while Nora Gray (Flat) triumphed by clinching her third MOP award in 2018-19 action (11th career). Aubrey Alderman won her second MOP in Reining, as Mallory Vroegh emerged victoriously as MOP after posting the event-high Horsemanship score in both the semifinal and championship final this weekend.
Starting off hot on the Hunter Seat side, SMU's No. 3 nationally-ranked fences squad notched their eighth event win on the season. Defeating opponent Erica Rosinksi, 170-164 on Castello, Yowan took home the event-high over fences and on the flat in today's competition. Tali DeJong clinched her point riding Dawson to eclipse Cecily Hayes, 165-133.
Gray riding Finn outscored Alivia Hart 163-149, as Devin Seek closed out the event strong posting a 157-145 victory over Alex Dirickson on Franco.
On the flat, Yowan on Dawson earned a 157-149 win over Cecily Hayes, while Gray beat Alivia Hart with a score of 147-110 on Olivia. Kirsten Ostling tallied another point to the Mustangs' scoring effort, after defeating Alex Dirickson 150-145 riding Ava.
The Western competitions were equally prolific, with several riders garnering their points for the Red & Blue. In the reining arena, Aubrey Alderman eclipsed opponent Paige Barton, 137.5-128 on Tia to take the win, while Madison Steed on Joe conquered her point over Allison Nordvall, 137-132.5. Savannah Ostner earned the event-high score in the UEC Championship final faceoff, 141.5-137.5, defeating Lexee Padrick on Will. Holly Lansidel on Tivvy was successful facing Shea Gilson, going 139.5-133.5 to win her point.
Vroegh embraced the event-high in Horsemanship during SMU's two days of battle. Vroegh bested Bulldog opponent Hannah Buijs,156.5-150.5 , riding Shadow. Ashley Mauney on Tommy, rode to a 145.5-128.5 win, to defeat Fresno State foe, Brooklyn Moch, while Megan Waldron, with a 154-145.5 win on Winnie B, notched her point against Alexis Steele.
The Mustangs (8-4, 5-0 UEC) remain undefeated in conference action and have consistently led the league as the top team in the standings, ranking as high as No. 2 in the NCEA Farnam Team Rankings.