WACO, Texas — Auburn University will kick off the 2018-19 The National Collegiate Equestrian Association on season ranked No. 1 in the preseason national team rankings, as determined by the NCEA Selection Committee.

The 2018-19 collegiate equestrian season officially begins on Thursday, Sept. 20.

Auburn, which won the 2018 NCEA Overall National Championship, is the preseason No. 1 team. The Tigers also took home the 2018 Western and Hunt Seat Discipline Championship as well as the Horsemanship and Equitation Over Fences Event Championships.

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Auburn has several riders from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York on the roster, including junior Kara Kaufmann of Belvidere, N.J. who competes in horsemanship. In her first two years on the team she had 32 rides, one Most Outstanding Performer awards, 17 wins, 12 losses and 3 ties. Also returning is Senior Kennedy Knapic, of Smithtown, N.Y., a 2018 NCEA and SEC Academic Honor Roll member who is joined by her sister, Meghan on the team.

Georgia, a six-time NCEA Champion and 2018 Equitation on the Flat Event Champion, is ranked No. 2. Texas A&M, which took home the 2018 Reining Event Championship, checks in at No. 3.

Anna Becker, a Branchville, N.J. native, was named assistant coach for the Georgia equestrian team in June. She is primarily responsible for coaching the Fences squad as well as recruiting for the English discipline.

Becker comes to Georgia after being a Hunt Seat coach at Kansas State from 2013-2015. She helped coach the team to back-to-back undefeated records at home as well as a Big 12 Reserve Champion finish in 2015.  She has coached several riders to All-Big 12, Big 12 Rider of the Year, and NCEA All-America recognitions.

A collegiate rider herself, Becker contributed to two SEC Championships, two Hunt Seat National Championships, and two team National Championships at Auburn University from 2010-2013.  She graduated Cum Laude with a degree in marketing.

Prior to college, Becker trained with Julie Becker, Michael Dowling, Stacia Madden/Beacon Hill, and Emil Spadone/Redfield Farm as a junior.  She has top finishes at USEF Medal Finals, ASPCA Maclay Finals, USET Finals, and the Equitation Championship at Capital Challenge, including a third place finish at the 2008 USET Finals East in the Gymnastics Phase and a third place finish at the Marshall and Sterling Finals in 2007.

Most recently, Becker has worked for the Washington International Horse Show as an Operations Manager in Washington, D.C. and received a master's degree in Sports Business from NYU.

Returning for Georgia is Emma Mandarino, a senior, of Bedminster, N.J. For the 2017-18 season she was named to NCEA All-Academic First Team; SEC Academic Honor Roll and Georgia Honor Roll and compiled an 11-10 record in Equitation Over Fences with  a season high score of 85 at Auburn.

Oklahoma State, the 2018 Big 12 Conference Champion, is ranked No. 4. Oklahoma inherits Kayla McCarthy of Manasquan who previously attended TCU and was a two-year letter winner there. She was also a three-time recipient of the USHJA Zone 2 College Scholarship.

TCU, a 2018 NCEA Overall Team Semifinalist, is No. 5 in the preseason poll. SMU, the 2018 UEC Conference Champion, checks in at No. 6, while Baylor is No. 7. South Carolina (No. 8), Fresno State (No. 9) and UT Martin (No. 10) round out the preseason top-10.

For all of the latest information on NCEA Equestrian, log on to www.collegiateequestrian.com, follow @NCEA_Equestrian on Twitter and @_ncea on Instagram.

2018-19 NCEA Preseason Rankings

1. Auburn

2. Georgia

3. Texas A&M

4. Oklahoma State

5. TCU

6. SMU

7. Baylor

8. South Carolina

9. Fresno State

10. UT Martin

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