April 4, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s Western and Hunt Seat teams will both face Delaware State in the opening round of the 2011 Varsity Equestrian National Championships. The 2011 National Championships will be held April 14-16 at the Extraco Events Center in Waco, TX.
“We are thrilled to be sending both squads to nationals,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “Both our Hunt Seat and Western teams have worked hard all season, and we have been practicing well as we get ready for next week. I think all of the girls are anxious to get out there and start riding.”
In the Western bracket, the Gamecocks earned the fifth seed with a record of 8-6. Delaware State is seeded twelfth. In the Hunt Seat bracket, South Carolina’s 7-8 record earned the Gamecocks the sixth seed, while Delaware State is seeded eleventh.
“Across the board, Delaware State is just a very strong team,” Major said. “They’ve had an up-and-down type season like us, but they finished strong two weeks ago with a big win over South Dakota State. Their Hunt Seat and Western teams both picked up 5-3 wins in that contest, so they certainly have some momentum going.”
The Gamecocks last competed against the Hornets on Jan. 29 in a neutral site competition at Baylor. Delaware State won the Hunt Seat competition, 6-2, but South Carolina the Western competition 4-4 on the raw score tie-breaker. The Gamecocks dropped the overall competition, 10-6.
“That was a tough loss for us. I really thought we rode a lot better than the overall score showed,” Major said. “We swept all four MVP’s that day, so outside of getting the win, there isn’t much more I can ask of our girls than that.”
In the Jan. 29 meeting in Waco, the Gamecocks swept all four MVP awards. In Equitation on the Flat, freshman Kelsey Hart picked up an 82-80 victory over the Hornet’s Caroline Foltz. Hart won South Carolina’s only point in the event as she earned her first MVP as a Gamecock. Hart received an honorable mention on the inaugural Varsity Equestrian All-America team.
In Equitation Over Fences, Carolyn Curcio’s 14-point win over Amanda Hotz earned the junior her first MVP as a Gamecock as well. Curcio received an honorable mention on the inaugural Varsity Equestrian All-America team.
In Horsemanship, the “first MVP” theme continued for the Gamecocks as redshirt freshman Johnna Letchworth picked up her first MVP as a South Carolina rider. Letchworth won her ride 73.5-68.5, improving her record to 4-1-1 at the time. Letchworth is now 12-1-1, earning the Connecticut native a spot on the inaugural Varsity Equestrian All-America team.
In Reining, senior Chloe Gray defeated her opponent 73-67, collecting her second MVP of the weekend and third of the season.
“I think we’ve gotten stronger as the season has progressed, especially on the Hunt Seat side,” Major said. “Our Hunt Seat girls are 5-3 since that competition, and we have won three in a row, so I think over there, the team better understands how to ride mistake-free. And on the Western team, they’ve been consistently strong all year, and they’ve been carrying the Hunt Seat team quite frankly. I feel very good about our Western riders.”
The winner of the Hunt Seat competition will face third-seeded Baylor in the second round. The losing team will be eliminated from the tournament.
In the Western bracket, the winning team will advance to face fourth-seeded Georgia in the second round. The losing team will be eliminated from the tournament.