March 22, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. – It’s postseason time for the University of South Carolina equestrian team, as the Gamecocks head to Auburn, Ala., this weekend for the 2017 SEC Championship. The Gamecocks will face Georgia in the semifinal round, beginning at 1:30 p.m. CT on Friday, March 24.
Prior to South Carolina’s matchup with Georgia, Auburn and Texas A&M will face off in the first semifinal, beginning at 9 a.m. CT. The winners will meet for the SEC Championship on Saturday, March 25, at 1:30 p.m. CT, while the semifinal losers ride in a consolation matchup at 9 a.m. CT.
The Gamecocks (6-6, 1-5 SEC) are the fourth seed at the SEC Championship and ranked seventh in the latest NCEA national poll, while Georgia (9-4, 4-2 SEC) in ranked fifth and the top seed in the SEC meet. Auburn (8-3, 4-2 SEC) enters the postseason occupying the top spot in the NCEA poll, though they are the second seed at the conference championship. Texas A&M (8-4, 3-3 SEC) is ranked fourth nationally and the SEC’s third seed.
Friday’s semifinal meet begins with equitation over fences and horsemanship at 1:30 p.m. CT. Reining and equitation on the flat are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. CT.
Live scoring is available throughout the SEC Championship, and fans can also track the meet’s progress by following @GamecockEQ on Twitter.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Boo Major
“Our confidence level is really high. I really think it’s anybody’s game this weekend. We certainly feel like we match up well with any of the teams we are riding against this weekend. Our record may not reflect that, but there are so many instances this year where we just lost by a few points here or there. We also feel like we match up quite well with Georgia. It’s anybody’s meet this weekend, so that’s going to make it really exciting and a lot of fun to watch.”
GAMECOCKS CELEBRATE MAJOR’S 20TH SEASON AS HEAD COACH
– During the postseason, GamecocksOnline.com will celebrate head coach Boo Major, who is in her 20th season as the leader of the Gamecock Equestrian program. A pioneer in the sport of collegiate equestrian, Major has led South Carolina to three national championships and three conference championships during her career. Over the past week, GamecocksOnline.com produced retrospectives of Carolina’s 2012 Southern Equestrian Championship and 2013 and 2014 SEC Championships. Each feature includes video reflections from Major as well as quotes from Gamecock alumni. Be sure to check them out, and look out for more features as the Gamecocks prepare for the 2017 NCEA Championship.
LATEST SNAPCHAT TAKEOVER SCHEDULED FOR SEC CHAMPIONSHIP
– The South Carolina equestrian program launched a new Snapchat account during the fall season to provide an inside look at the program. Fans can follow the Gamecocks by searching for the user name “gamecockeq.”
– Fans are encouraged to follow the Gamecocks on Snapchat throughout the SEC Championship as junior Raleigh Bacharach hosts another edition of the SNAPCHAT TAKEOVER, a special behind-the-scenes look at the postseason event.
– Throughout the season, a selection of Gamecock student-athletes will host more editions of the SNAPCHAT TAKEOVER. Recent TAKEOVERS have included behinds-the-scenes looks at Carolina’s road trips to California and Texas, Honor Roll Night at a Gamecock basketball game, a look at the team’s world-class workout facilities, Equifest Kids Day and more. Make sure to follow “gamecockeq” on Snapchat today for a glimpse inside the lives of the Gamecocks.
LAST YEAR AT THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP
– South Carolina went 1-1 last season at the SEC Championship, which was hosted by Georgia. The Gamecocks lost their semifinal, 11-7, to Auburn before rallying to defeat Texas A&M in the consolation round, 11-8.
– Carolina’s semifinal battle with Auburn was tied, 7-7, with equitation on the flat left the decide the winner. The Tigers won four points and forced a tie in the fifth to advance to the championship round.
– Bailey Walters was named reining MOP last season in the postseason duel with Auburn.
– In the third-place draw with Texas A&M, Carolina shut the Aggies out in hunt seat, 9-0, en route to the victory.
– Lizzie van der Walde took home MOP honors in jumping against the Aggies, while Walters was reining MOP for the second straight day.
– Walters and graduated senior Abigail Pait were each named to the SEC All-Championship Team in 2016. Both riders went 2-0.
CAROLINA’S SEC CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
– Carolina is 5-3 all-time over the course of four SEC Championship events.
– Three Gamecocks won the first two SEC Championship titles, in 2013 and 2014. Carolina went 0-2 in 2015 and last season dropped its semifinal meet against Auburn before knocking off Texas A&M in the consolation round.
– Carolina’s 2013 SEC title came at Auburn. The Gamecocks knocked off Georgia in the semifinals, 10-7 and defeated the hosts in the finals, 10-8.
LAST TIME OUT ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” SOUTH CAROLINA 14, SMU 5
– South Carolina dominated their regular-season finale, a 14-5 victory over SMU on March 4 at One Wood Farm.
– Three Gamecocks earned MOP honors on against the Mustangs, as Madison Butehorn (equitation over fences), Lauren Fabiano (equitation on the flat) and Bailey Mierzejewski (horsemanship) all grabbed top honors.
– The Gamecocks won all four disciplines, including a 5-0 sweep of horsemanship. Mierzejewski was joined in victory by Ashley Reichert, Megan Overberg, Paige Stopperich and Madison Thiel.
– Prior to the meet, the Gamecocks honored seniors Mierzejewski, Reichert, Courtney Allen, Makayla Clegg, Kara Guertin, Lindsey Slack, Sydney Smith, Madeline Valenzuela and Amelia Vernon, who were competing at One Wood Farm for the final time.
SERIES HISTORY vs. GEORGIA
– Georgia holds a 28-13 series lead over Carolina all-time.
– Two of the biggest wins in Carolina history have come against Georgia: a 10-10 tiebreaker victory in the 2014 SEC Championship finals and a 10-6 win in the 2015 NCEA National Championship finals.
– The Gamecocks earned a home win over the Bulldogs in their first meeting this season, a 9-8 triumph on Oct. 9, 2016.
– The Oct. 9 battle between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs went down to the final point. Tied 8-8, Carolina got a 74.5-74 horsemanship victory from Paige Stopperich to clinch the victory and defeat their second top-five opponent of the season.
– Stopperich and Lauren Fabiano (equitation on the flat) each won MOP laurels in Oct. 9 meeting.
– Georgia came back to defeat the Gamecocks on Feb. 3, 14-5.
– The Gamecocks won both western MOP awards on Feb. 3, as Stopperich and Paisley Roberts (reining) were honored.
– Carolina holds a 2-0 mark against Georgia in SEC Championship competition. Head coach Boo Major’s club defeated the Bulldogs in the 2013 semifinals, 10-7, and the 2014 finals, a 10-10 tiebreaker win.
SERIES HISTORY vs. AUBURN
– The Gamecocks are 22-19 all-time against Auburn.
– The Tigers have won the last six meetings with Carolina, including a 13-5 victory on Nov. 18 and a 10-8 win at One Wood Farm on Feb. 25.
– Megan Overberg (horsemanship) and Bailey Walters (reining) won MOP laurels in the first meet with Auburn this season.
– Overall, the Gamecocks had their most success against Auburn in reining, where they won seven of the 10 points combined in the two meets.
– The Gamecocks are 1-2 all-time against Auburn in the SEC Championship. The Gamecocks won the 2013 final, 10-8, but lost in the 2015 consolation round, 13-6 and the 2016 semifinal, 11-7.
– Roberts earned a reining point against the Tigers in the 2015 SEC Championship meeting, while Overberg, Sydney Smith, Lizzie van der Walde, Ashley Reichert, Bailey Walters and Madison Thiel notched points last season in the postseason meeting with Auburn.
SERIES HISTORY vs. TEXAS A&M
– South Carolina and Texas A&M have split their prior 20 meetings right down the middle, with both squads winning 10 times.
– The Aggies won both regular-season meetings this year: 10-8 on Sept. 30 at One Wood Farm and 14-6 on Feb. 10 in College Station.
– In the Sept. 30 meeting between the teams, Madison Butehorn (equitation over fences) and Caroline Gute (reining) won MOP awards for the Gamecocks.
– On Feb. 10, the Gamecocks also won a pair of MOPs, as Madison Sellman (equitation on the flat) and Sydney Smith (equitation over fences) were honored.
– In SEC Championship action, the Gamecocks are 2-1 all-time against the Aggies. South Carolina was victorious in the 2014 semifinals, 12-7, lost in the 2015 semifinals, 11-7 and earned a victory last season in the consolation match, 11-8.
– Lizzie van der Walde (equitation over fences) and Bailey Walters (reining) each won MOP accolades last season in the SEC Championship meeting between the schools.
CLEGG NAMED TO SEC COMMUNITY SERVICE TEAM
– Carolina senior Makayla Clegg was named to the 2017 SEC Community Service Team on March 16. She was joined on the squad by by Auburn’s Jacqueline Shilen, Georgia’s Sydney Beasley and Texas A&M’S Sarah Orsak.
– A native of Social Circle, Ga., Clegg has posted over 200 hours of community service during the season, and she is an active volunteer both with team-sponsored activities and on her own time.
– The senior fosters homeless dogs through Pawmetto Lifeline and Basset Hound Rescue, and she helps provide therapy to horses at Hoof Print Meadows. She went on a mission trip with her church, conducts equestrian camps with Curing Kids Cancer and is a leading participant in the team’s stuffed animal and Christmas gift drives.
CAROLINA RANKED NO. 7 IN NCEA POLL
– The Gamecocks have spent the last two weeks ranked seventh in the NCEA national top-10 poll.
– Carolina opened the season ranked eighth and has been listed in every poll this season, spending two weeks in the fall at No. 6 to mark the high watermark so far this season.
– SEC rivals Auburn (No. 1), Texas A&M (No. 4) and Georgia (No. 5) are ranked alongside the Gamecocks in the national top-10.
GAMECOCKS FEATURED IN SEC MONTHLY HONORS
– South Carolina student-athletes Madison Butehorn (equitation over fences) and Madison Thiel (reining) were honored as SEC Riders of the Month in September, while Paige Stopperich (horsemanship) was a conference honoree in October.
– All three Gamecocks went 2-0 in their winning months.
GAMECOCK PROGRAM HISTORY
– The 2016-17 season marks the 21st year of the Gamecock equestrian program.
– The Gamecocks have won three national championships (2005, 2007, 2015).
– South Carolina has two runner-up finishes (2006, 2014).
– Under the old championship format, the Gamecocks won three straight hunt seat championships between 2005 and 2007.
– Carolina has won two Southeastern Conference championships (2013, 2014).
– 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
– 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.
– Major’s legendary career already includes three National Championships (2005, 2007, 2015), two SEC Championships (2013, 2014) and two national coach of the year awards (2014, 2015).
– Associate head coach Ruth Sorrel is in her 12th season with the Gamecocks. She leads South Carolina’s western team.
– Hillary Dobbs is in her third season serving as the team’s hunt seat coach.
AWARD WINNERS RETURN
– South Carolina returns four student-athletes that garnered SEC postseason awards in 2015-16
– Leading the way is Bailey 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.
– 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 Lizzie van der Walde, an All-Freshman pick in equitation on the flat.
– Last but not least, Bailey 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
After the conference meet, Carolina is on to the NCEA National Championship, which will be held April 13-15 in Waco, Texas.