SPURS & FEATHERS: Gamecocks Finish Strong Fall Season
Dec. 2, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina equestrian team entered the 2016-17 season hoping to make big strides after a disappointing campaign the year before. At the halfway point of the season, head coach Boo Major has overall been pleased with what her team has done.
The No. 8 Gamecocks (3-3, 1-2 SEC) already have impressive wins over Georgia and Baylor, two teams that are currently ranked in the top four in the most recent NCEA poll. Two of the three losses for South Carolina have both been by just two points.
“We had some good wins,” Major said. “There were some very positive things out of the fall that we were very happy with. Any time you can have a win over Georgia, that’s a positive thing. We just have to keep plugging and doing what we can. But I do think we’re in a better spot this year than we were last year. I can’t say I’m pleased, but I’m okay with where we are. We have plenty of time to get better.”
The Gamecocks have had several standouts emerge during the fall portion of the schedule, including freshman Caroline Gute, who sports a superb 4-0-1 record at the halfway point in reining.
“I think she’s just done an exceptional job of being able to jump right in and has really proven herself,” Major said of Gute.
Another freshman, Madison Sellman, earned praise from Major in equitation over fences and Sydney Smith has also performed well in that event as she has a 2-0-1 SEC record so far in fences. In equitation on the flat, redshirt junior Chloe Schmidt has done a good job of “coming into her own” according to Major, and in horsemanship another junior, Paige Stopperich, has taken advantage of her extended riding time this season.
South Carolina took advantage of four straight home meets to begin the year, winning three of them. The Gamecocks had two tough road losses, but overall Major has been pleased with the gradual improvement her team has showed since the season began.
“I think that’s one thing we challenged our girls to do was just to have some improvement,” Major said. “Just to work on improving throughout the semester. Each of the girls that competed was challenged with a different thing that they needed to get better with. I think for the most part they did.”
As always, this winter break will be extremely important in deciding how the Gamecocks finish out the season. Much of it relies on the student-athletes continuing to train and treat their bodies right during the break. Four of the six meets in the spring are away from One Wood Farm in Blythewood, so Major hopes her team can come back in shape and ready to go in January.
“Once they get back, I think we just continue to try and stress the consistency,” Major said. “Just trying to ride more consistently and to consistently get better. I think if we’re doing that then we’ll continue to improve.”