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Auburn equestrian tramples Texas A&M for SEC title

<p>Team Celebration.</p>
<p>Saturday, March 30, 2019, in College Station, Texas</p>
<p>Photo: Texas A&amp;M Athletics</p>

Team Celebration.

Saturday, March 30, 2019, in College Station, Texas

Photo: Texas A&M Athletics

The No. 1 Auburn equestrian team made another stop on its way to defend the 2018-19 national title on Saturday afternoon. 

The Tigers dismantled Texas A&M, 11-6 to win their second-ever SEC championship.

“This is such an exciting time for the Auburn Tigers,” said Auburn head coach Greg Williams. “We’ve set our sights on tis the past couple of years and it feels really good to bring this title back home.”

With this win, the Tigers moved to a 15-0 record, continuing the lone undefeated season in NCAA equestrian history. 

Auburn saddled up and kicked off the two-day championship Friday with a 13-7 win over South Carolina to advance to the championship round. The final meet was held on Texas A&M’s campus at the Hildebrand Equine Complex.

The Tigers started off hot on Saturday with a 4-1 victory in fence jumping. Senior Ashton Alexander orchestrated a 213-120 win before freshman Emma Kurtz knocked out Grace Boston, 251-248.

Caitlyn Boyle added another win to her career wins record, extending the record to 268 wins. Hayley Giannotti put the final nail in the fence’s competition with a 225 for the win.

Horsemanship galloped to a 2-2 tie with the Aggies. This helped the Tigers go into the half with a 6-3 lead. Taylor Searies kicked off the event with a score of 219.5 and an Auburn win.

"We really wanted to win it for our seniors,” Searies said. “This is such a great team and we’ve really been riding as one all year.”

Junior Kara Kaufmann tied her opponent, 215.5-215.5. Senior Lauren Diaz improved her season record to 13-2 with a 218.5-212 victory.

The Tigers smacked the Aggies on the flat, finishing with a 3-0 mark. Alexander had a critical ride for the squad and scored 267 points in her win. Freshman McKayla Langmeir kept her undefeated streak in the event with a 225-212 victory.

Boyles and Iannotti helped the Tigers seal the deal with a pair of ties in the flat. Iannotti and A&M’s Rhian Murphy each scored a 239, while Boyle and her opponent ended with a score of 238-238.

The judges awarded Auburn two bonus points in reigning after a stunning performance by sophomores Terri-June Granger and Deanna Green. Granger, the Alabama native, toppled Marissa Harrell, 209.5-206 to start the event. Green shut it down with a 208.5-202.5 win over Ashton Dunkel.

“It feels great to accomplish one of our goals that we’ve set for years,” Alexander said. “Coming together as a whole team really helped us be a stellar team this weekend."

Auburn has its sights set on defending its national title at the 2019 NCEA Championship from April 17-20, in Waco, Texas. The four-day event will be held at the Extracto Events Center.

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