AUBURN, Ala. – The 2023-24 Auburn equestrian team will kick off the season ranked No. 2 nationally as the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) announced its preseason rankings Wednesday.
“We’re excited about the talent we have returning as well as the talent in our freshman class,” head coach Jessica Braswell said. “Every team is 0-0 right now and we are going to have to earn our ranking in the arena all season. I’m excited to get started with a top 10 match up this weekend in front of our home crowd.”
SMU holds the top spot in the rankings after winning the NCEA title last season. TCU and Texas A&M come in third and fourth, while Oklahoma State is fifth. Georgia ranks sixth, Baylor is seventh and South Carolina stands at eighth. UC Davis and UT Martin round out the top 10.
The defending Southeastern Conference champion and national runner-up Tigers return seven NCEA All-Americans from last year’s team. Highlighting the group is fifth year Ava Stearns, who is coming off another big year for Auburn in Jumping Seat. The first team All-American in Fences also earned All-SEC in the same event, while being named to the NCEA All-Championship Team in both Fences and Flat.
Joining her on the Jumping Seat side of competition will be senior Ellie Ferrigno and juniors Mary-Grace Segars and Sophee Steckbeck. Ferrigno was a first team All-American in Fences and was named the SEC Fences Rider of the Year. Steckbeck picked up All-America recognition in Fences, while Segars earned the national honor in Flat.
The Western corps returns a wealth of experience from last year, including sophomore All-American Alexia Tordoff. She earned national honors in Horsemanship and was named the SEC Freshman Rider of the Year for both Horsemanship and Reining.
Seniors Kate Buchanan, Olivia Marino, Madison Parduhn and Isabella Tesmer will be key contributors for the Tigers this season in Western competition. Parduhn is an All-American in Horsemanship, while Buchanan and Tesmer picked up All-America honors in Reining last season. Marino had an outstanding postseason for the squad, earning NCEA All-Championship Team recognition in Reining.
Sophomores Caroline Buchanan and Caroline Fredenburg also were key starters for the squad in Western and their experience will be key for the team this season.
Auburn opens the 2023-24 season this Saturday, September 23, hosting No. 9 UC Davis at the Auburn University Equestrian Center. Action kicks off at 11 a.m. CT and admission is free.
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