Jan. 31, 2015
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – No. 3 South Carolina won its fifth straight meet of the season on Saturday, cruising to a 13-2 win over fifth-ranked SMU at One Wood Farm. The Gamecocks improve to 5-2 on the season, while the Mustangs fall to 4-5.
“This was a team win across the board and I’m proud of them all,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “In our first meet at home in three months, I thought we looked sharp in all four events and really got after it today. We had two first time MVPs today which was outstanding, and I’m pleased with how everyone pitched in today and helped us get this win.”
The Gamecocks dominated the Mustangs from the start of Saturday’s meet, jumping out to a 4-0 lead after reining. Junior Sarah Bouchard won the first point of the meet when she knocked off SMU’s Keagan Snively, 67.5-66.5. Freshman Bailey Walters followed with a 68-62.5 win over Morgan Redwine. After Gamecock freshman Paisley Roberts held SMU’s Jaclyn White to a 65.5-65.5 tie, Carolina closed out the event by winning back-to-back points. Senior Cody McMillion edged the Mustangs’ Casey Bibbs, 68-66, and in her first competition as a Gamecock, sophomore Kara Guertin picked up MVP honors as she posted an event-high score to defeat Courtney Line, 69-66.5.
“That was exactly how we wanted to start the meet, and I thought our reining team rode lights out today,” Major said. “Our reiners have really found their stride since the Fresno State meet in November, and they’ve been working extremely hard so I know it’s nice for them to see it pay off.”
South Carolina built on its lead as the Gamecocks downed the Mustangs, 3-1, in equitation over fences to take a 7-1 lead at the halfway point of Saturday’s meet.
Redshirt sophomore Sydney Smith won the first jumping point when she knocked off SMU’s Schaefer Raposa, 84-76. Senior Alexa Anthony followed with a 80-74 win over Leina King. Katherine Schmidt kicked off another 2-for-2 day by posting an event-high score 88 to beat Alex Butterworth by 17 points. Schmidt was named MVP, the 23rd of her career, three away from tying the program record set by former Gamecock Johnna Letchworth, who posted 26 MVPs from 2010-2013. After SMU won its lone hunt seat point, junior Samantha Kraus held Mustang rider Sylvia de Toledo to a 85-85 tie.
“Our jumpers were solid today,” Major said. “Sydney and Alexa both had some bad luck in the fall, but they were outstanding today so I was happy to see them win their points. And I thought Schmidty had a great trip so it was nice for her add another MVP to the resume.”
The Gamecocks did not let up in the second half of Saturday’s meet, outscoring the Mustangs 6-1 over the last two events.
In equitation on the flat, hunt seat captain Amber Henter beat SMU’s King, 84-76. Schmidt finished off her 2-for-2 day by winning her program best 89th career point when she beat Emma Roberts, 87-76. Senior Adele Norton followed by winning her third career MVP with a 87-80 win over de Toledo. All three of Norton’s career MVPs have come this season. After Anthony held SMU’s Raposa to a 81-81 tie, junior Samantha Kraus closed out the 4-0 win for the flat team by edging her opponent, 87-86.
“We have a lot of folks riding well on the flat right now, and that’s an event that we’ve needed to ride well in,” Major said. “Sammi K, Adele, and Schmidty are all 6-1 this year which says a lot about their talents. I’m proud to see a lot of our veteran riders step up for us right now because that’s what we’ll need as we get ready to face three SEC opponents in our next four meets.”
South Carolina edged the Mustangs, 2-1, in horsemanship. After junior Abigail Pait and sophomore Courtney Allen held their opponents to ties, western captain Sam Chiodo improved to 6-1 on the season with a 72.5-69 win over Hannah McCain. Sophomore Bailey Mierzejewski followed by winning her first career MVP in a 73-70.5 win over Courtney Line.
“Our horsemanship team was great today,” Major said. “Sam has been a good leader for our horsemanship riders and I think coach Sorrel has been very pleased with what she’s been seeing out of them. Bailey had an outstanding trip today and it’s always special to see someone with their first MVP, and I know she was happy to get to do it at home today.”
The Gamecocks return to action next Saturday for a doubleheader at the UGA Equestrian Complex in Bishop, Ga. South Carolina will face Georgia at 10 a.m., followed by a meet against Delaware State.
Prior to the start of Saturday’s meet, the equestrian team presented athletics director Ray Tanner and Town of Blythewood Mayor J. Michael Ross with their 2014 SEC Equestrian Championship Rings. Mary Ellen Tobias and Martha Jones were also recognized for their support of the equestrian program, which included their roles in securing the sign on Interstate 77 at Exit 27 that recognizes Blythewood as the home of the Gamecock equestrian team.