Nov. 21, 2014
South Carolina junior Sarah Bouchard won her first career MVP on Friday, as the Gamecocks wrapped up their fall schedule with a 12-8 win at Oklahoma State.
STILLWATER, Okla. – No. 3 South Carolina snapped its winless streak in Stillwater on Friday, as the Gamecocks closed out their fall schedule with a decisive 12-8 win over Oklahoma State at the Animal Science Arena. The Gamecocks wrap up fall competition with a record of 4-2 overall and a 2-1 mark in SEC play, while the Cowgirls drop to 1-4 and 0-3 in Big 12 action.
“I can’t think of a better way to end the fall semester than with a big win on the road,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “We knew coming in to this meet that it may be our toughest road meet of the entire season, and our girls didn’t back down one bit. To win three of four MVPs on the road is tough enough, but to earn a 4-1 win over what is probably the best reining team in the country, that was really an exciting way to end the meet. Hats off to [western coach] Ruth Sorrel and [hunt seat coach] Hillary Dobbs for getting the girls ready for today, and I’m proud of everybody for a nice team win.”
The Gamecocks opened the meet with a 3-2 win in equitation over fences to jump out to an early lead on Friday. After Oklahoma State won the first point of the meet, junior Samantha Kraus kicked off a two-point day with an 80-77 win over Cowgirl rider Jorden Davis. Sophomore Sydney Smith gave the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead when she won her first point of the season, edging Oklahoma State’s Maggie Drysch, 78-77. The Cowgirls won the next point to tie the meet at two apiece, but senior captain Amber Henter posted an event-high score (82) to beat Katie Jones by one point and claim her second MVP in as many meets.
“On the road, it’s always important to win the first event for momentum, so it was nice to be able to do that,” Major said. “We thought we had a slight advantage on the hunt seat side, but when you’re on the road, that sort of negates that a bit. But I thought our jumping team rode really well and got things going for us.”
The Cowgirls evened the meet at five apiece after winning horsemanship, 3-2.
Oklahoma State won the first horsemanship point to tie the meet at 3-3, but junior Kelsey Urban gave Carolina a 4-3 lead when she dropped the Cowgirls’ Miranda Reed, 71.5-65.5. Oklahoma State won the next point to tie it again, but junior Abigail Pait posted a team-high horsemanship score (75.5) to beat Ty Paris by half a point. The Cowgirls won the final horsemanship point to tie the meet at 5-5.
“We know how good Oklahoma State’s horsemanship team is, but our girls were up for the challenge today,” Major said. “You obviously want to get as many points as you can, but I thought the two points that we won were very crucial at that point of the meet. We felt very good about where we were heading in to the flat.”
In equitation on the flat, the Gamecocks won 3-of-5 points to take an 8-7 lead heading in to reining.
Oklahoma State took its final lead of the meet early in the flat, winning the first point to hold a 6-5 lead. But Kraus finished off her 2-for-2 day moments later and the Gamecocks took the lead for good when she knocked off Katie Jones, 74-70. Senior Adele Norton followed with her second MVP of the fall and first career road MVP, when she edged Oklahoma State’s Carly Barrick, 80-79. Gamecock senior Katherine Schmidt closed out the event with a 10-point win over Kendall Pedigo to give Carolina the 8-7 lead.
“The flat can be really tough on the road, but I thought we rode very well and the momentum from that was huge,” Major said. “Sammi K turned in another great performance on the road, and her and Adele are now 10-2 combined on the flat this year, so they’ve turned out to be a great one-two punch for us this fall. This is three straight road meets where our hunt seat team has outridden their opponents, and that says a lot about the talent of this group.”
Holding a one-point lead in the meet but trailing in the tiebreaker score, the Gamecocks turned to their reining team, needing it to deliver its best performance of the season in one of the country’s toughest venues.
The reining team delivered, dominating the Cowgirls, 4-1, giving Carolina its first win in Stillwater and its fourth straight win of the season.
Gamecock senior Cody McMillion made the most of her return to the lineup on Friday as she knocked off Cowgirl rider Brenna Brawner, 70-68.5, to give South Carolina a 9-7 lead. Freshman Bailey Walters won her third point of the season and gave the Gamecocks a 10-7 lead when she posted a 71.5-79 win over Danielle Cohen. Oklahoma State state won the next point to cut the Gamecocks’ lead to 10-8, but junior Sarah Bouchard and senior Layla Choate wrapped up the Gamecocks’ fall semester by slamming the door shut on Oklahoma State’s hopes of a comeback. Bouhcard posted an event-high score 73 to roll past Cowgirl rider Katy Krshka, earning the junior her first career MVP, making her the first and only Gamecock reiner to win an MVP in Stillwater. She joins former Gamecock Johnna Letchworth as the only two western riders in program history to win an MVP at Oklahoma State. With the win already wrapped up, senior Layla Choate finished off her perfect fall semester with a 71.5-70 victory over Julia Purus. Choate is now 6-0 on the season and the Kentucky native’s six wins in a single event leads the team this year.
“I cannot think of a better way for us to have ended the meet,” Major said. “With all of the pressure on us being the road team, our reining team went out there this evening and put on their best performance of the entire season. They got it done for us today and should be proud of themselves.”
With fall competition wrapped up, the Gamecocks return to action on Jan. 31, when South Carolina hosts SMU in Blythewood.