March 24, 2016
BISHOP, Ga. – South Carolina is set to face No. 1 Auburn on Friday in the opening round of the 2016 Southeastern Conference Championship. This year’s tournament is hosted by the University of Georgia and will take place at the UGA Equestrian Complex. The winners from Friday’s competitions will meet on Saturday in the championship meet, while the two losing teams will face off in the third place competition.
“We’ve had a great couple of weeks of practice and I know the girls are excited about this weekend,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “Auburn has been a great team all year and they beat us both times during the regular season, but the postseason is a new day and a new opportunity and that’s been our message. We had some struggles this spring, but one thing that has impressed me about this team is their commitment to getting better and never giving up. We have our work cut our for us on Friday against a tough Auburn team, but if we ride at the level I know this group is capable of, then we’ll be able to give ourselves a chance and see what happens.”
SCOUTING THE GAMECOCKS
– The Gamecocks are currently 4-9 overall and 0-6 in SEC play.
– Carolina wrapped up its regular season with an upset win over then-No. 6 SMU on March 4.
– The Gamecocks swept all four M.O.P awards in the regular season finale.
– South Carolina is facing Auburn at the SEC Championship for the first time since 2013.
– The Gamecocks won the SEC Championship in 2013 and 2014.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
– Auburn is currently 11-1 overall and 5-1 in SEC play.
– The Tigers are currently on an eight-meet winning streak.
– Auburn has never won an SEC Championship in the sport of equestrian.
– The Tigers’ best finish came in 2013, when they finished as runner-up to South Carolina.
– Auburn has earned 10 or more points in 11-of-12 competitions this season.
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
– Friday: Auburn vs. South Carolina (9 a.m. ET)
– Friday: Georgia vs. Texas A&M (9 a.m. ET)
– Saturday: Auburn/South Carolina loser vs. Georgia/Texas A&M loser (9 a.m. ET)
– Saturday: Auburn/South Carolina winner vs. Georgia/Texas A&M winner (2 p.m. ET)
The last time Auburn was the No. 1 seed at the SEC Championship was in 2013. The Gamecocks, who earned the No. 2 seed, upset Auburn, 10-8, to win the inaugural SEC title.
The Gamecocks advanced to the championship meet after beating Georgia in the opening round.
In the SEC Championship meet against Auburn, the Gamecocks beat the Tigers, 6-4, in hunt seat action, while both teams picked up four points each in the western events.
HISTORY LESSON II
The last time Georgia hosted a postseason tournament was the 2012 Southern Equestrian Championship. In lieu of an official conference championship, Auburn, Georgia, and South Carolina competed in an annual postseason championship for 10 years before the Southeastern Conference officially added an equestrian championship for the 2012-13 season.
In what would be the final edition of the Southern Equestrian Championship, South Carolina and Auburn faced off on day-1 (March 30, 2012), with the winner advancing to face No. 1 seed Georgia the following day. Then ranked No. 6 at the time, the Gamecocks dominated the Tigers for the second time in five weeks, upsetting then-No. 3 Auburn, 12-6. Both the hunt seat and western teams put up six points in the win, and the Gamecocks swept all four M.O.P. awards along the way. Carolyn Curio (equitation on the flat), Kimberly McCormack (equitation over fences), Johnna Letchworth (horsemanship), and Layla Choate (reining) all were named Most Outstanding Performers in the Gamecock win.
South Carolina went on to beat No. 1 Georgia the following the day in a 10-10 tiebreaker to win their one and only Southern Equestrian Championship. That championship victory began a streak of “four rings in four years” for the Gamecocks, who would go on to win the 2013 and 2014 SEC Championships, with the crown jewel coming in 2015 when Carolina won the NCEA National Championship for the third time in program history.
If the Gamecocks beat the Tigers on Friday, they will face the Georgia/Texas A&M winner in the SEC Championship meet on Saturday at 2 p.m. If the Gamecocks lose to Auburn, Carolina will face the Georgia/Texas A&M loser in the consolation meet.