Madisonville resident Griffin Knight, a senior at Auburn University, and her team recently won the NCEA National Equestrian Championship after taking home the SEC championship earlier this month.
Knight, the daughter of Sonny and Dawn Knight, and teammate Elizabeth Benson earned championship rings from Auburn’s 2013 national title when they were freshmen.
“We’ve really only had one loss and road losses really aren’t that big of a deal in this sport,” Head Coach Greg Williams said in an Auburn University publication. “Some of the road ones they’ve picked up were some tough ones, but good so they know how to focus and stay in it until the end. The team chemistry is incredible, so I couldn’t ask anymore out of them.”
Knight’s mother Dawn Knight said she is incredibly proud of her daughter, who was named SEC Horsemanship Rider of the Year on April 13.
“Griffin has come a long way – from being a 3-year-old Catalina cowgirl riding and training her entourage of paint stick horses to an equestrian champion,” Dawn Knight said. “We are so proud of her.”
Both Benson and Knight have set, and broken, team records in their senior seasons, in preparation for nationals.
“This year has been the most memorable first of all because it’s my senior year and this is a really special time,” Knight said. “Throughout my four years, I’ve never seen a group of girls who love what they do so much and who have been more supportive and so united and passionate about something.”
Coach Williams said that teamwork, along with the combination of senior leadership and freshman talent, would be the team’s key to victory.
“The senior leadership has been phenomenal,” Williams said. “So you’ve got all the leaders pulling and all the others pushing, so they’ve got the machine going about as fast as it can.”
According to Williams, the team plans to take it match-by-match and remain motivated by having something to prove.
“They want somebody to play them,” Williams said. “And that’s exactly the kind of team I like. I love a team that’s mad — it’s by far my favorite.”
Auburn University contributed to this report.