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Monday, June 10, 2024

UC Davis equestrian season comes to an end

The lead-up to NCEA and the legacy that followed


By MI’ZAUNI REESE — sports@theaggie.org


Over the last six years, the UC Davis Equestrian team has been building a stronger foundation on the principles of camaraderie, work ethic and a shared love of horseback riding. These pragmatic principles have propelled the team to the eighth seed in the nation, granting them a rather competitive position in the sports league. 

After back-to-back wins in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Semifinals and Championship, the Aggies earned their spot to compete in the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) Championship for the first time in program history. Excitement circulated throughout the team as they looked forward to competing on the national stage, a goal achieved by a culmination of time, dedication and passion for the sport. They anticipated a challenging competition but looked forward to it with the intention of winning the championship.

Prior to the competition, the Aggies had one of the best seasons in UC Davis equestrian history. Besides a fantastic record and competitive team, Head Coach Jill Humphrey represented the US Equestrian at the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Cup Finals. As head coach of the Davis equestrian program, Humphrey also displayed her skills, proving her capability to coach our collegiate athletes. With it being her second season as head coach and sixth overall, the athletes were prideful of her invitation. They supported her in Florida as the athletes also competed over the April 20 weekend. 

Leading up to the competition, the Aggie equestrian team won the ECAC Championship, defending their title. Competing in flat classes for the championship by demonstrating walk, trot, and canter, the Aggies prevailed 3-2. Following flat classes, the horsemanship competition left the Aggies tied for first place with a score of three. The tied score didn’t last long as the Aggies regained the lead with a score of 6-4.  

UC Davis’ lead continued to grow as the Aggies dominated the fences and reining portions of the competition. Fourth-year communications major Maggie Franke and third-year human development major Natasha Replogle earned “Most Outstanding Players” for the conference, as Franke beat her opponent by 23, and Replogle helped earn the win in the championship. 

Coming off the ECAC Championship, the Aggies received their first invitation to the NCEAl Championship in Ocala, Florida. This competition included only the top eight teams in the nation. Taking place over the April 20 weekend, these girls made UC Davis history.

Unfortunately, the Aggies’ experience in the NCEA championship was short-lived. Their first competition was against first-seeded Texas Christian University (TCU). Starting off the competition, the Aggies were nearly swept 5-0 before fourth-year viticulture and enology major Carly Sweenet tied with NCEA First Team All-American Ashleigh Scully, preventing the initial blowout. 

After NCEA Second Team All-American fifth-year history major Macey Newkirk scored the first point for the Aggies during Reining, the Aggies began to make a comeback during the flat classes, winning the first three points. However, during the horsemanship competition, TCU secured their win, earning four of the five points, ending the Aggies’ Equestrian season. 

Although they performed well and secured their second consecutive ECAC title, the team wrapped up their 2023 to 2024 season as the eighth seed, reaching the National Championship and receiving their highest national ranking in program history. The last competition for the equestrian team reached new heights they had never reached before, with full intentions of winning the championship next season. 

Written by: Mi’Zauni Reese — sports@theaggie.org


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