March 13, 2010
Wellington, Fla. - Auburn sophomore Hunt Seat rider Maggie McAlary was named the first FIT-WEF Collegiate Equitation Challenge Champion Friday February 26.
McAlary was one of 16 of the nation's best collegiate riders present at the Winter Equestrian Festival. The competition was held in the varsity equestrian head-to-head format under the lights of the International Arena. The event featured four rounds of single elimination competition culminating in the naming of the Equitation Challenge Champion.
Individuals were invited to compete with selections based upon individual national rankings from the Fall 2009 season. Riders drew at random for mounts donated by various professionals contesting the season at WEF.
The riders who best demonstrated the idea of Hunter Equitation were rewarded by the judges by moving forward to the next bracket. McAlary and No. 5 South Carolina's Nicole Bourgeois were the final two riders, but McAlary topped Bourgeois 89-85 to earn the victory for Auburn and the Championship trophy donated by the South Florida Hunter Jumper Association.
"I was extremely excited to have the chance to represent Auburn University and winning the inaugural Collegiate Equitation Challenge is something very special," said McAlary. "I am happy to win it not just for myself, but for Auburn."
According to a Feb. 27 PhelpsSports.com article, Bobby Murphy designed the four courses for the events and each course included different challenges that forced riders to be bold and show-off their mount.
"Bobby Murphy did a good job of giving you a solid course that allowed you to make decisions depending on the horse that you had," said McAlary. "I really liked the last round because it gave you a lot of opportunity to gallop and show off."
"We are so proud of Maggie and her performance," said Auburn head coach Greg Williams. "She is a gifted athlete to start, yet she continues to practice enough to be great. This win is another great moment for Auburn Fans."
McAlary and the Auburn equestrian team (11-2) return to action this weekend in Fresno, Calif., as they take on No. 10 Fresno State Saturday and No. 6 Kansas State Sunday. Both meets are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. CT.
For more information, contact Mae Margaret Davis at (334) 844-9800.