April 16, 2011
WACO, Texas – South Carolina’s Western team ended its 2010-2011 season with a sixth place finish at the 2011 Varsity Equestrian National Championships. The Gamecocks fell to Oklahoma State, 4-3, in the fifth-place competition Saturday morning.
“We’re disappointed in the results, but certainly not in our effort,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “Our Western girls, both in Horsemanship and Reining have put together some great rides for us this season. We made a few mistakes this morning, and against a team like Oklahoma State, we paid for them when the scores came in.”
Saturday’s competition at the Extraco Events Center began with Reining, as South Carolina spotted the Cowgirls an early 2-1 lead. Sophomore Amanda Pope won her ride, 141.5-140, over Oklahoma State’s Caroline Daniels. Pope finishes her weekend at nationals with a 3-1 record. Melia Blakely tied her opponent with a score of 134.5.
Senior captain Chloe Gray, competing in her last collegiate competition, lost her ride, 141-138.5. Gray went 3-1 this weekend at nationals, giving her 10 wins for the season, and 44 for her career.
“We’re disappointed for Chloe that she lost her final ride today,” Major said. “But she has been one of our most successful Western riders ever, and I couldn’t be more proud of what she has given to this team both in the ring and as a leader.”
Down 2-1 heading into Horsemanship, senior Hailey Thornton scored a team-high 152 in her last ride as Gamecock, defeating the Cowgirls’ Mami Tomlin. Thornton finishes the season with a career-high 11 wins, giving her 31 wins for her career.
“Like Chloe, it’s impossible to express how much Hailey has meant to our program,” Major said. “One of the most talented riders we’ve ever had, she’s never backed down from a challenge. The two of those girls will leave South Carolina literally having beaten everybody there is to beat.”
Junior Maggie Fortune ended her season on a high note, scoring a one-point win over Lauren Halvorson. Fortune went 2-2 at nationals this year, 3-2 overall in post-season competition, and earned a 10-win season for the second year in a row.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth in Maggie this year, especially during the spring,” Major said. “She’s going to be one of our leaders on the Western team next season, and her experience and success is going to help out next year’s team a lot.”
The Western team finishes its season with a 10-8 overall record.