March 22, 2017
The 2016-17 season is the 20th anniversary of head coach Boo Major’s tenure at the University of South Carolina. Throughout the postseason, GamecocksOnline.com will look back on some of the biggest victories of Major’s career, including today’s feature, highlighting Carolina’s 2014 SEC Championship win over Georgia at One Wood Farm.
South Carolina hosted the official Southeastern Conference Championship for the first time in 2014 and was eager to repeat after capturing the inaugural SEC title one season earlier. The Gamecocks entered the meet as the top seed and the No. 1-ranked team in the nation and easily dispatched of Texas A&M in the opening round, 12-7, to set up a classic confrontation with arch rival and second-ranked Georgia in the Championship Match.
The match was tight throughout equitation over fences, where Carolina took three of the five points, and Georgia won three of the five horsemanship tallies to even the contest at 5-all midway through. Georgia won the first two flat points to take a 7-5 lead before Carolina stormed ahead. With equitation on the flat and horsemanship running simultaneously, the Gamecocks earned consecutive victories from Alexa Anthony, Johnna Letchworth, Katherine Schmidt, Sarah Bouchard and Adele Norton to grab a 10-7 edge. Victory was just a point away.
However, Georgia won the final three points, ending the match at 10-all. After a brief period of confusion during which Georgia thought they had won, a thorough analysis of the scorecards revealed that the Gamecocks were actually the winner, as the tiebreaker went to the Gamecocks by less than four points, 4,040.25-4,036.75.
Schmidt was named to the SEC All-Championship team in fences, while Anthony (flat) and Letchworth (horsemanship) grabbed MOP honors for the final match. With the win, the 2012-13 and 2013-14 Gamecocks became the first teams from Carolina to win consecutive SEC championships.
WHAT THEY SAID THEN
“There aren’t words to describe this day. It was a roller coaster. We started of the day strong. We got points on the board, like we needed to do. Obviously it must such a letdown when we thought we had lost. Hearing that we had won, I didn’t believe my ears. When (Coach Major) told us, I thought ‘this has got to be some sort of joke.’ It didn’t really sink in until we were up here getting the award.”– Katherine Schmidt
“I couldn’t be any prouder of our girls today for the way they competed today. Anytime you win a championship, it’s certainly a special moment, but the way this team has carried itself this year and the way they’ve committed themselves to winning, it was nice to see it pay off today. We appreciate Georgia’s riders for showing true sportsmanship the way they did today, and I know our girls appreciated (Georgia head coach Meghan) Boenig’s post-meet speech to them in the ring. I’m so happy for our girls today, and we’re honored to be able to win this championship for the University of South Carolina.”– head coach Boo Major
WHAT THEY SAY NOW
“Rain. Rain. Rain. It poured that day. I remember feeling our team work extremely hard that entire meet, fighting for every point and when the results were in-everyone was extremely disappointed. You always want to win but this day it really felt like it was ours. Then, the coaching staff gathered us together. The initial thought was we were potentially in trouble but when they announced we had actually won everyone was ecstatic. It was a dream come true. To win SECs while hosting at Carolina was amazing. Having many Gamecock fans there made it even more memorable.”– Abigail Pait
“This memory is one that will stick with me throughout my lifetime; I was by the jumping ring holding a horse for the consolation bracket when Coach Gwin came up to me saying she had a big secret but couldn’t tell me just yet. Seconds later we were herded up for a meeting with Coach Boo, who couldn’t contain her excitement. She said, ‘I can’t hold it in anymore, y’all won.’ The moments that followed were confusion, excitement and disbelief. Once the dust settled we were told that Cory had found a score calculation error that, once fixed, put us ahead of UGA for the win. After thinking we lost to one of our biggest rivals, we were heartbroken, especially since we were ranked no. 1 nationally and had the home field advantage. To hear we had won was honestly hard to believe, and it took a moment to sink in. I remember that we also felt very badly for UGA, because they too were experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions but theirs was much worse than ours. We did our best to be courteous and didn’t celebrate too loudly or excitedly until the day was over and the other teams were gone. That day was one of the most surreal days of my life without question. Gamecock Equestrian always has the best fans. Though it was rainy that weekend, we had so many supporters braving the elements to watch us compete. We were upset when we thought we’d lost, and so were the fans. Having them there to hear we had won with us made it all that much better, because they were just as emotional about it as we were. We also had student-athletes from other teams come out to cheer us on, including some of the football players. It’s always incredible to have support from fellow student-athletes. Not only that but some of our professors, advisors and the One Wood Farm staff were all there to witness the championship win on our home turf. It’s an incredible feeling to be surrounded by such a strong support system from the fans, to our parents, and other important figures in our academic lives, all coming out to the farm to encourage us to ride better and be our best. We were thrilled to win the championship for our fans and for the University.”– Katherine Schmidt
“It was very special. I think we had such a great vent staff that helped us organize the whole thing. Megan Kennington was just starting out, and to have her come in without a whole lot of knowledge on the horse side of thing and turn One Wood Farm into an SEC Championship venue was really exciting. We were to have a very competitive atmosphere, a championship atmosphere.”– Coach Major