Sept. 23, 2011
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – South Carolina’s equestrian team opened the 2011-2012 season in dominating fashion on Friday, as the Gamecocks defeated Fresno State, 16-3. On top of the win, South Carolina’s riders swept all four MVP awards, two of which were won by freshmen.
“Across the board, I’m thrilled with today’s results,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “We put on the type of performance today that shows this team is capable of doing some great things this season. We beat a strong Fresno State team, and that’s something this team should be proud of.”
The Hunt Seat team cruised to a 9-1 victory over the visiting Bulldogs, including a 5-0 sweep in Equitation Over Fences.
In Equitation on the Flat, the Gamecocks jumped out early, winning four of five points. Junior Kimberly McCormack scored the first of four straight Gamecock points, defeating her opponent by a 21-point margin. McCormack’s event-high score of 85 earned her MVP honors. Senior captain Colvin Hedgepeth won her ride, 58-50. And freshman riders Catherine Pasmore and Katherine Schmidt both won their points on Friday. Pasmore defeated the Bulldogs’ Lauren Carr, 54-50, and Schmidt scored a 74-51 win over Kimberly Steinbuch.
In Equitation Over Fences, the Gamecocks cruised to a 5-0 sweep. McCormack, MVP from Equitation on the Flat, scored a 79-77 win over her opponent, completing her 2-for-2 day. Schmidt, making her debut as a Gamecock earlier in the day in Equitation, also went 2-for-2, winning her jumping ride, 86-55. Her 31-point victory earned her MVP honors for the event. Also making her debut as a Gamecock on Friday was redshirt freshman Amber Henter, who dominated her Bulldog opponent, 78-63. Senior Paige Dekko picked up a seven point win over Fresno State’s Hillary West, and junior Alex Arute defeated the Bulldogs’ Amanda Pastel by 25-points.
“Our Hunt Seat girls looked great today, no question about it,” Major said. “We had some of girls win by large margins, and that’s encouraging to see, because Fresno State is the kind of team that will capitalize on your errors. We didn’t make many today, and that showed in the results. Coach Gwin and all of our Hunt Seat riders should be proud.”
South Carolina’s Western team also looked strong on Friday, winning 7-2.
Friday’s Western competition began with Horsemanship, as the Gamecocks won the event, 3-1. Sophomores Johnna Letchworth and Alison Ceresani both scored event-high scores of 76.5, with both riders winning their points. Letchworth’s 76.5-73 win over Sammie Jo Stone earned her MVP for the event. Ceresani, making her competition debut for the Gamecocks, defeated her opponent, 76.5-75.5. Sophomore Katie Kopf picked up the Gamecocks’ first point of the event, as she scored a 75.5-72.5 point win over Fresno State’s Rio Haack. Senior captain Maggie Fortune drew her Bulldog opponent to a 73.5-73.5 tie.
In Reining, South Carolina won four of five points, including Layla Choate’s MVP win in her first ride as a Gamecock. Choate, the only freshman to compete for South Carolina’s Western squad on Sunday, defeated Fresno’s Whitney Kittle, 74-71. Junior Melody Malbin, competing in her first home competition as a Gamecock, scored an event-high 74.5 to defeat Lauren Crivelli’s 72. Junior Amanda Pope also picked up a 73-69.5 win over her opponent, and Jordan Brown earned a half-point win over Fresno State’s Sydney Coletti.
“Our Western girls have been lighting it up in practice the past few weeks,” Major said. “We’ve got some older girls who have always been solid, and some freshmen and sophomores with a ton of talent, and coach Sorrel has these girls riding strong right now. Mistake-free riding is something we preach, and they delivered today.”
The Gamecocks return to action on Friday, September 30 when South Carolina hosts TCU at 2 p.m.