Sept. 22, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina equestrian team starts the 2016-17 regular season on Friday, Sept. 23, with a home meet against Baylor University. Admission is free at One Wood Farm, located at 1201 Syrup Mill Rd. in Blythewood, and the competition begins at 2 p.m.
The meet kicks off with reining at 2 p.m., with equitation over fences scheduled for approximately 3 p.m. Horsemanship and equitation on the flat will run simultaneously, with a scheduled start time of approximately 4 p.m.
Friday’s meet is the 2016-17 regular season opener for both teams and a battle featuring two top-ten programs. The Gamecocks are ranked eighth in the 2016-17 NCEA Preseason Poll, while the Bears are listed fifth.
QUOTING ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH Ruth Sorrel
“Baylor is going to be a huge opening meet for us. The girls are really excited; some of their friends are on the other team, so they get to see them in a nice, friendly competition. Baylor is a very solid team across the board, so we’re looking forward to a tight match, but looking to come out on top.”
RECAPPING THE ALABAMA MEET
â€¢ South Carolina has already competed once this season, an 8-2 hunt seat exhibition victory over Alabama on Sept. 16.
â€¢ The Gamecocks opened the meet by sweeping all five equitation on the flat points, and they won three of the five points in equitation over fences.
â€¢ Sophomore Sarah Isgett was named M.O.P. in equitation on the flat.
â€¢ The Gamecocks conducted a Garnet & Black intra-squad scrimmage on the western side running simultaneously with the hunt seat competition vs. Alabama. The Black squad came away victorious, 5-2.
â€¢ Sophomore Meredith Milton took M.O.P. honors in horsemanship, and freshman Caroline Gute was the M.O.P. in reining.
SERIES HISTORY VS. BAYLOR
â€¢ The series with Baylor has been incredibly tight, with the Gamecocks holding a 7-6 advantage. The Gamecocks have held the upper hand at home, with a 4-0 mark against the Bears.
â€¢ Last season’s matchup went to the Bears, 16-3, on Nov. 6, 2015, in Waco, Texas. Sydney Smith, Megan Overberg, and Bailey Walters won the points for Carolina, with Walters coming home with M.O.P. honors in reining.
â€¢ Current Gamecocks Paisley Roberts and Bailey Mierzejewski earned points as the Gamecocks defeated Baylor, 10-6, on April 18, 2015 in the NCEA Championship semifinals. South Carolina went on to capture the national title later that day.
â€¢ Mierzejewski also tallied a point in a 12-6 regular season victory over the Bears on March 6, 2015, at One Wood Farm.
GAMECOCK PROGRAM HISTORY
â€¢ The 2016-17 season marks the 21st year of the Gamecock equestrian program.
â€¢ The Gamecocks have won three national championships (2005, 2007, 2015).
â€¢ South Carolina has two runner-up finishes (2006, 2014).
â€¢ Under the old championship format, the Gamecocks won three straight hunt seat championships between 2005 and 2007.
â€¢ Carolina has won two Southeastern Conference championships (2013, 2014).
â€¢ The Gamecocks won the 2012 Southern Equestrian Championship, the precursor to the SEC Championship, which was added for the 2012-13 season.
MEET THE COACHES
â€¢ The 2016-17 campaign marks a milestone for South Carolina head coach Boo Major, who begins her 20th season at the helm of the Gamecock program.
â€¢ Major’s legendary career already includes three NCEA National Championships (2005, 2007, 2015), two SEC Championships (2013, 2014) and two national coach of the year awards (2014, 2015).
â€¢ Associate head coach Ruth Sorrel is in her 12th season with the Gamecocks. She leads South Carolina’s western team.
â€¢ Hillary Dobbs is in her third season serving as the team’s hunt seat coach.
SCOUTING THE GAMECOCKS
â€¢ The Gamecocks return 29 student-athletes from last season’s squad, including 19 returners who competed in at least one meet last season.
â€¢ Sophomore Lizzie van der Walde leads all Gamecocks returners after earning 11 victories last season, while Chloe Schmidt, Sydney Smith and Bailey Walters each grabbed eight wins last season.
â€¢ Smith is the team’s active career leader with 14 career victories.
â€¢ As a team, the Gamecocks posted a 5-11 record last season.
â€¢ Head coach Boo Major rounds out the 2016-17 roster with 11 newcomers.
â€¢ Baylor went 13-5 last season, with a 7-2 Big 12 Conference record.
â€¢ The Bears lost to TCU in the quarterfinals of the 2016 NCEA Championship.
â€¢ Baylor returns four All-Americans from last season: Alicia Gasser (equitation on the flat), Charlotte Green (horsemanship), Savannah Jenkins (equitation on the flat & equitation over fences) and Rachel Van Allen (equitation on the flat).
â€¢ The Bears fell in an exhibition to SMU, 11-9, on Sept. 17. Baylor riders Madison Day (equitation over fences) and Aspen Crew (horsemanship) won M.O.P. honors.
AWARD WINNERS RETURN
â€¢ South Carolina returns four student-athletes that garnered SEC postseason awards in 2015-16
â€¢ Leading the way is Mierzejewski, who was named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a junior. The Mount Sterling, Ohio, native has maintained a 4.0 GPA in each of her semesters as a student in the South Carolina College of Pharmacy.
â€¢ Both of South Carolina’s 2016 SEC All-Freshman Team selections are back for their sophomore seasons: Madison Thiel, who earned the award in both horsemanship and reining, and van der Walde, an All-Freshman pick in equitation on the flat.
â€¢ Last but not least, Walters looks to build on her SEC All-Championship Team reining honor from 2016. The junior was 2-0 last season at the conference tournament and earned Most Outstanding Performer honors against both Auburn and Texas A&M.
ONE WOOD FARM RULES
â€¢ For the safety of the riders and horses, pets are not allowed at One Wood Farm, including dogs. This rule does not apply to service animals.
â€¢ Noisemakers (spirit sticks, spirit clappers, spirit cowbells, stadium horns, megaphones, speakers, and bullhorns) are prohibited from being used at One Wood Farm.
â€¢ Fans are advised that there will be no on-site concessions available at the event; however, coolers are allowed at One Wood Farm.
SEASON OPENERS (SINCE 2003)
â€¢ 2015-16 : at South Dakota State (9/25/15) — W, 9-7
â€¢ 2014-15 : at Kansas State (9/19/14) — L, 8-10
â€¢ 2013-14 : vs. Kansas State (9/20/13) — W, 15-5
â€¢ 2012-13 : vs. Oklahoma State (9/29/12) — W, 13-7
â€¢ 2011-12 : vs. Fresno State (9/23/11) — W, 16-3
â€¢ 2010-11 : vs. SMU (9/24/10) — W, 8-4 (Hunt seat-only meet)
â€¢ 2009-10 : vs. TCU (9/20/09) — L, 9-10
â€¢ 2008-09 : vs. Kansas State (9/19/08) — W, 13-4
â€¢ 2007-08 : vs. TCU (9/22/07) — W, 11-8
â€¢ 2006-07 : vs. Baylor (9/22/06) — W, 11-9
â€¢ 2005-06 : vs. Kentucky (9/23/05) — W, 1,224.5-1,148.5
â€¢ 2004-05 : at Georgia (9/25/04) — L, 1,166-1,097
â€¢ 2003-04 : at Georgia (10/3/03) — L, 1,053.25-1,072
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
South Carolina is back home on Friday, Sept. 30 for a meeting with Texas A&M. The Gamecocks and Aggies open the competition at 2 p.m. ET in the third of five straight home meets to open the season for Major’s squad.
The two sides met three times last season, with the Aggies taking home 14-5 and 10-9 regular-season victories. South Carolina came back to win the SEC Championship meeting between the two sides, 11-8.