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Sept. 27, 2013

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BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – The South Carolina equestrian team put on another dominating performance on Friday, this time in a 17-3 win over Fresno State at One Wood Farm. The Gamecocks improve to 2-0 on the season, while the Bulldogs are 0-1 after dropping their season opener. Carolina has scored 32 points in two meets, which breaks a team record set during the 2009-2010 season (31 points).

The western team won, 9-1, and and the hunt seat team won 8-2.

“I thought we rode extremely well today and I am very impressed with everybody,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “After last week’s win, we challenged the girls to have a productive week at practice and to ride even better this week. We had a great week of practice, and it showed in the arena today.”

For the second straight time this season, Carolina jumped out to an early 4-1 lead after a strong performance by the reining team. Junior Layla Choate scored the first point of the meet, when she dropped Fresno State’s Sonya Koch, 71-69.5. Sophomore Sarah Bouchard followed with a half-point victory over the Bulldogs’ Ciara Kozlowski, giving the Gamecocks a 2-0 lead. Junior Cody McMillion won her first point of the season when she knocked off Brigid O’Leary, 70-69.5. Senior Jordan Brown gave the Gamecocks a 4-0 lead as she won a 70-68.5 decision over Fresno State’s Kristen McKillop. The Bulldogs prevented the shutout when Taylor Brown posted an event-high 71.5 to win her point.

“It seems like for us, when the reining team starts off the day strong, that we’re always able to build on that throughout the rest of the meet,” Major said. “Momentum can play such a big part in these meets, so it’s important for us to get those early points. The reiners looked great today, and they should be proud of what they’ve been able to do the last two weeks.”

The Gamecock jumpers continued the strong start, winning four of five points to give Carolina the 8-2 lead at the halfway point.

Junior Katherine Schmidt started the jumping by posting an event-high score of 89, cruising past her Bulldog opponent by 21 points and earning her 11th career MVP. Sophomore Emily Reynolds won her first point of the season and gave the Gamecocks a 6-2 lead when she defeated Fresno State’s Belle Calkin, 87-81. The Bulldogs went on to win the next point, but sophomores Samantha Smith and Samantha Kraus beat their opponents by 11 points each to give South Carolina a six-point lead. Smith defeated Fresno State’s Chelsie Rua-Stone, 85-74, and Kraus followed with an 88-77 decision over Kara Spicer.

Holding a comfortable lead, Carolina’s horsemanship and equitation on the flat teams combined to win nine of the final ten points in Friday’s meet.

“That’s been one of the most impressive things for us, I think, is how well we’ve done at closing these first two meets out,” Major said. “Fresno State had some good rides today and could have won some of those points, but I was happy that our girls kept competing.”

A week after scoring a team-low three points against Kansas State, the horsemanship team rebounded and put on the best performance of the day – a 5-0 sweep. Sophomore Abigail Pait made the most of her Gamecock debut, edging Fresno State’s Shauna Woodward, 71.5-70.5, to win her first career point. Senior captain Alison Ceresani followed with a 13-point victory over Kirsten McKillop, her second victory of the season. Junior Sam Chiodo won her first point of the season as she knocked off the Bulldogs’ Rio Haack, 77-76.5. Senior Katie Kopf gave the Gamecocks a 13-2 lead when she posted a 76-75 victory over Taylor Brown, preventing her from going undefeated on the day. Letchworth closed out the 5-0 sweep with a 77-72 victory over Sydney Elliott. Letchworth was named MVP, her second of the season and 16th of her career.

In the flat arena, the Gamecocks got strong performances from its double-duty trio for the second straight meet. Smith, Schmidt, and Kraus all won their flat points on Friday, and the three are now a combined 12-0 this season with three MVP’s. On the same day she won her 11th MVP, Schmidt also won her 12th MVP, earning the honor in equitation on the flat. Carolina won the first three flat points, but Fresno State avoided the shutout and made it a 16-3 meet when the Bulldogs’ Macy Wilson won her point. Senior Kelsey Hart closed out the meet with an eight-point victory over Hilary West, her first win of the season.

The Gamecocks return to action next week when Carolina hits the road for the first time this season. The Gamecocks travel to Dover, Del. for a pair of meets. South Carolina will face Delaware State on Friday, and then the Gamecocks will compete against Southern Methodist on Saturday.