Feb. 26, 2012
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – No. 5 South Carolina completed its weekend sweep on Sunday, clobbering fourth-ranked Baylor, 15-4, at One Wood Farm. The Bears won four of the first five points in Sunday’s meet, but the Gamecocks went on to win the next 14, including a 10-0 sweep in Hunt Seat action. With the win, the Gamecocks are now 6-5 on the season, while Baylor falls to 7-4.
“This was a great win for us today over a good Baylor team,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “Baylor will admit that they didn’t have their best rides today, but our girls really put forth a good effort and it was rewarding to see all of their hard work pay off. Yesterday’s win over Auburn, and today’s win over Baylor shows that our team is still going after our goal of a National Championship.”
Baylor struck early on Sunday, winning four of the first five points in a Reining rout. Junior Amanda Pope scored the lone Gamecock point, as she picked up a 66-57 win over Baylor’s Ellie Powell, the largest margin of victory in the event.
“Our reiners may not have gotten the points, but we’re happy with the way they rode today, and they way they have ridden all month,” Major said. “Of our four riders that lost, three of them lost by one point and one lost by a half-point. There are always things we can improve on, but all of our Reiners have ridden better this month than they have all season, so I’m very encouraged about where they’re heading.”
Down 4-1, South Carolina responded swiftly, winning the final 14 points of the meet, shutting out Baylor in three events – Equitation Over Fences, Equitation on the Flat, and Horsemanship.
“We obviously knew we were in an early hole, but you wouldn’t have known that based on the way our girls rode,” Major said. “They’re pretty good about not getting too up or getting too down, and that really is what stuck out to me today, because to respond like that in three different events, that hopefully sends a message to our riders of what they are really capable of.”
Trailing by three points, Sunday’s meet headed down to the lower arena where the Gamecocks pulled off a 5-0 sweep over Baylor in Equitation Over Fences. Senior Paige Dekko, riding in her final home meet as a Gamecock, finished her home career in style, riding Keaton to a 85-82 victory over Kara Fergusson, earning Dekko her second MVP of the season.
Katherine Schmidt scored first for the Gamecocks in the jumping, knocking off Baylor’s Lisa Goldman, 84-70, in what would be the start of another 2-for-2 day. Junior Kimberly McCormack picked up the first of her two points on the day with a 79-75 win over Baylor’s Ashley McGhee, and freshman Amber Henter dropped the Bear’s Taylor Brown by 25 points. Junior Carolyn Curcio also went 2-for-2 on Sunday, beginning with a two point victory over Sue Carol Thompson.
“Our jumpers really turned that meet around today, and really took away any momentum that Baylor had,” Major said. “Baylor has really been a strong Hunt Seat team this year, and our girls really went out there and rode well and earned all five of those points. Not only did that take away Baylor’s momentum, but that really charged up the rest of the team and got us going I think.”
The Gamecocks held a 6-4 advantage at the halfway point, as both team’s headed back to the upper arena for Horsemanship and Equitation on the Flat. Both squads combined to shut out Baylor in the second half of the meet, winning nine points.
“They closed it out for us again, so hats off to both the Horsemanship and Flat teams,” Major said. “Between yesterday and today, our Flat and Horsemanship teams went 17-2, and we have to give them credit because Auburn and Baylor could have easily come back in both meets, so that was great to see us finish out two meets like that.
The Flat team picked up a 5-0 sweep over Baylor, completed the 10-0 sweep for the Hunt Seat team, which is now 9-2 this season.
McCormack, Schmidt, and Curcio completed their 2-for-2 days by winning their points in Equitation on the Flat. McCormack was named MVP in Equitation Over Fences, her fourth of the season and 14th of her career. She now leads the Gamecocks in wins with 15, two away from the 17 wins she posted last year, which included post-season competition.
Schmidt is right behind McCormack in wins, as she now sits at 14 this season, with identical 7-3 records in both Hunt Seat events. She picked up a one-point victory over the Bear’s Melanie Appel. Curcio scored an event-high 81 to defeat Baylor’s Lisa Goldman. Senior captain Colvin Hedgepeth, riding in her final home meet as a Gamecock, dropped Baylor’s Taylor Brown, 71-66. Sophomore Kelsey Hart completed the 10-0 Hunt Seat sweep by defeating Kara Fergusson, 76-74.
“Our flat riders were phenomenal today, but they’d be the first to say that they could have ridden a little better,” Major said. “They rode well today, and we were really happy to get Kelsey in because she really deserves it and has been great for us since last season. And to see Colvin get a win in her final home meet was really special because she’s been a great Hunt Seat captain for us and definitely deserves some credit for the success of our Hunt Seat team this year.”
The Horsemanship team also shutout Baylor in the second half of Sunday’s meet, 4-0. Senior Taylor Singmaster cruised past Baylor’s Chelsea Retmeir to win her final ride at home as a Gamecock. Singmasters’s point would be the first of four in a row for the Gamecocks.
Sophomore Alison Ceresani followed up with a 72.5-71 win over Rachel Nankervis, improving her record to 8-2. Sophomore Johnna Letchworth won her ninth point of the season and third MVP with an event-high 75.5 to defeat Baylor’s Bryn Lindley, who scored a 73.5. Freshman Sam Chiodo knocked off Baylor’s Meghan Murphy, 71-69. Senior captain Maggie Fortune entered the ring for the final time at home knowing that she would have to put up and event-high score to beat Baylor’s Parris Rice, who posted a team-high 75. Fortune tied Rice by posting a score of 75, as Baylor was held scoreless for the final three events of Sunday’s meet.
“Our Horsemanship riders have been phenomenal all year,” Major said. “They’ve been a consistent group all season long, and I couldn’t be happier for Coach Sorrel and that group. Very happy to see Taylor win today, and Maggie’s tie help clinch the shutout for us, which was really big just to say that we were able to do that. And when you see our younger riders like Sam, Ali, and Johnna continue to excel, we’re going to have a really good Horsemanship team for a long time.”
Prior to Sunday’s meet against Baylor, the equestrian team recognized its senior class on Senior Day. Paige Dekko, Colvin Hedgepeth, Maggie Fortune, Annie McDonald, Victoria Middleton, and Taylor Singmaster were honored for their contributions to the program.
The Gamecocks return to action on Fri. March 16, when they close out the regular season with a road meet at Delaware State, before turning their attention to the postseason, beginning with the Southern Equestrian Championships on March 30-31 in Bishop, Ga.