Gamecocks Open SEC Schedule against Texas A&M
Sept. 29, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A season-opening home stand continues for the University of South Carolina equestrian team when it hosts Texas A&M on Friday, Sept. 30, in the 2016-17 SEC opener for both teams. The meet starts at 2 p.m. ET at One Wood Farm, located at 1201 Syrup Mill Rd. in Blythewood.
Friday’s meet starts with reining at 2 p.m., and equitation over fences will begin at approximately 3 p.m. Horsemanship and equitation on the flat will run simultaneously, with a scheduled start time of approximately 4 p.m.
Counting their exhibition, Friday’s meet is the third contest in a stretch of five home dates to open the season for head coach Boo Major’s team. It’s also a second-straight top-10 matchup for the Gamecocks (1-0, 0-0 SEC), who come in listed eighth in the latest NCEA national rankings. Texas A&M (1-0, 0-0 SEC) is ranked third.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Boo Major
“We went up against a very good Baylor team, and I think our girls proved to us and themselves that they’re capable of beating a very good team. But we know we’ve got to put out a little bit more (effort) and work a little bit harder this week. We’re very confident right now, but we’re not resting on our laurels by any means.”
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 concession stand available at the event; however, coolers are allowed at One Wood Farm.
â€¢ Also, the Belgian Waffle Truck, a local food truck serving a variety of waffle dishes, will be on site.
RECAPPING THE BAYLOR MEET
â€¢ South Carolina opened the regular season on Sept. 23 with a thrilling 12-6 victory over No. 5 Baylor at One Wood Farm.
â€¢ The day started on the right foot for the Gamecocks, who won three points in reining, but they truly took control in equitation on the flat, building an 8-1 lead after collecting all five jumping points.
â€¢ Three Gamecocks earned M.O.P. honors: Katie Mack (equitation on the flat), Madison Butehorn (equitation over fences) and Madison Thiel (reining).
â€¢ With the victory, Carolina is now 8-6 all-time against Baylor, with a 5-0 advantage at One Wood Farm.
â€¢ The victory also gave the Gamecocks their second straight win over NCEA top-five opponents.
NEWCOMERS SHINE IN BAYLOR VICTORY
â€¢ The Gamecocks used three true freshmen in their lineup against Baylor, and the trio went undefeated, with a 2-0-1 mark.
â€¢ Mack (equitation on the flat M.O.P.) and Madison Sellman (equitation over fences) were victorious in their Gamecock debuts, while Caroline Gute (reining) earned a draw.
â€¢ Two additional Gamecocks earned their first career victories in the Baylor meet: Butehorn (equitation over fences M.O.P.) and Lauren Fabiano (equitation on the flat)
SERIES HISTORY VS. TEXAS A&M
â€¢ South Carolina is 10-8 all-time against the Aggies, with a 5-1 mark at one Wood Farm.
â€¢ The teams have been frequent opponents since the Aggies joined the SEC prior to the 2013-14 season, with Texas A&M holding a 5-4 series in the current era.
â€¢ Carolina snapped a four-meet losing streak to Texas A&M in the last meeting, an 11-8 victory at the 2016 SEC Championship in Athens, Ga.
â€¢ Current Gamecocks Lizzie van der Walde (equitation over fences) and Bailey Walters (reining) were M.O.P. honorees in the last matchup with the Aggies, while Chloe Schmidt and Sydney Smith also earned points.
â€¢ Schmidt was the equitation on the flat M.O.P. when the teams met last season in College Station.
SCOUTING TEXAS A&M
â€¢ Texas A&M opened the season with a 12-7 victory over UT-Martin on Sept. 23.
â€¢ After the win, the Aggies rose from their preseason ranking of No. 4 into the third position in the NCEA national poll.
â€¢ Three Aggies won M.O.P. honors in the UT-Martin meet: Rebekah Chenelle (equitation over fences), Kaci Fisher (horsemanship) and Madison Bohman (reining).
â€¢ The Aggies return two riders who collected All-SEC honors last season: Alex Desiderio (equitation on the flat and equitation over fences) and Avery Ellis (horsemanship).
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 Schmidt, Sydney Smith and Bailey Walters each grabbed eight wins last season.
â€¢ Smith is the team’s active career leader with 15 career victories, including an equitation over fences win against Baylor.
â€¢ Head coach Boo Major rounds out the 2016-17 roster with 11 newcomers.
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: 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.
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
South Carolina is back at One Wood Farm on Friday, Oct. 7 to host No. 2 Georgia. The SEC contest starts at 2 p.m. at One Wood Farm.
The Gamecocks dropped both of their meetings with the Bulldogs in 2015-16, by counts of 13-5 and 13-7. However, Carolina’s last win over Georgia, a 10-6 triumph on April 18, 2015, came in the NCEA National Championship Match.