April 12, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina equestrian team has reached the last stage of the 2016-17 season, as it takes part in the 2017 NCEA Championship April 13-15 in Waco, Texas. The Gamecocks enter as the No. 6 seed and will face 11th-seeded South Dakota State in the first round, beginning Thursday at approximately 9:05 a.m. CT.
The winner of Thursday’s battle between the Gamecocks and South Dakota State will go on to face third-seeded Auburn on Friday in the quarterfinals. Semifinals and the championship match are scheduled for Saturday.
The Gamecocks (6-8) and Jackrabbits (3-8) begin their day with equitation over fences at approximately 9:05 a.m. CT. They begin reining at approximately 11:50 a.m., equitation on the flat at approximately 1:40 p.m., and horsemanship at approximately 4:15 p.m.
Live video coverage is available free of charge throughout the NCEA Championship courtesy of EQSportsNet, and fans can also track the meet’s progress by following @GamecockEQ on Twitter.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Boo Major
“I think what we have to do is be patient. We have a lot of folks that will be competing this year for the first time (at nationals). We’ll have quite a few freshmen in, so we’re looking for our upperclassmen who have competed before to be able to bring the ones that haven’t competed along for the ride, and let them know that it’s okay to be a little nervous. At the same time, you’re here at a national championship; you’re on a national stage, and if you want to be successful, you have to get in there and treat it like any other competition we have.”
GAMECOCKS CELEBRATE MAJOR’S 20TH SEASON AS HEAD COACH
â€¢ 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 2005, 2007 and 2015 national championships, as well as individual titles from 2000, 2004 and 2008. Each feature includes video reflections from Major as well as quotes from Gamecock alumni. Be sure to check them out!
LATEST SNAPCHAT TAKEOVER SCHEDULED FOR NCEA CHAMPIONSHIP
â€¢ 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.”
â€¢ Fans are encouraged to follow the Gamecocks on Snapchat throughout the NCEA Championship as senior Lindsey Slack hosts another edition of the SNAPCHAT TAKEOVER, a special behind-the-scenes look at the postseason event.
â€¢ 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, Aurie Engel Schmieding singing the national anthem at the Final Four, 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 NCEA CHAMPIONSHIP
â€¢ South Carolina fell to SMU last season in the NCEA Championship first round, 10-6.
â€¢ Three of Carolina’s six points came from current student-athletes: Lizzie van der Walde (equitation on the flat), Megan Overberg (horsemanship) and Madison Thiel (reining).
â€¢ The loss to the Mustangs was the first time since the NCEA went to the combined format that the Gamecocks have lost their opening matchup.
CAROLINA’S NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
â€¢ South Carolina is a three-time varsity equestrian national champion. The Gamecocks were the overall winners under the old format at the inaugural Varsity Equestrian Championship in 2005, and they also won the overall crown in 2007. In 2015, under the new format, the Gamecocks captured the NCEA title in Waco.
â€¢ The Gamecocks also won the hunt seat national title under the old format in 2006, and they were runners-up at the NCEA Championship in 2014.
â€¢ Carolina’s current seniors were freshman for the 2014 run to the national finals, though no current member of the team participated at nationals that season.
â€¢ Four student-athletes remain from the 2015 national title victory over Georgia: Sydney Smith won a jumping point, while Megan Overberg, Bailey Mierzejewski and Paisley Roberts each rode in the 10-6 triumph.
â€¢ Since the combined format was instituted in 2014, the Gamecocks are 5-2 at the NCEA Championship.
LAST TIME OUT — 2017 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP
â€¢ South Carolina fell in both competitions at the SEC Championship, held March 24-25 in Auburn, Ala. The Gamecocks were topped by Georgia, 13-7, and Texas A&M, 12-8.
â€¢ Four Gamecocks went 2-0 at the SEC Championship: Chloe Schmidt (equitation on the flat), Madison Sellman (equitation over fences), Ashley Reichert (horsemanship) and Bailey Walters (reining). Schmidt and Reichert each won MOP honors against Texas A&M, while Walters was the reining MOP of both meets.
â€¢ With her two victories and two top honors, Walters is now 4-0 all-time in her SEC Championship career, with four MOP wins.
SERIES HISTORY vs. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
â€¢ South Carolina is 6-0 all-time against South Dakota State.
â€¢ The teams last met Sept. 25, 2015, with the Gamecocks taking a season-opening 9-7 win on the road.
â€¢ Amelia Vernon won equitation on the flat MOP honors in the 2015 victory, while Raleigh Bacharach, Lizzie van der Walde, Bailey Walters and Bridgett White also earned points.
â€¢ South Carolina is 3-0 against SDSU both at home and in South Dakota, but the teams have never faced ach other at the national meet.
SERIES HISTORY vs. AUBURN
â€¢ The Gamecocks are 22-19 all-time against Auburn.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ Megan Overberg (horsemanship) and Bailey Walters (reining) won MOP laurels in the first meet with Auburn this season.
â€¢ Overall, the Gamecocks had their most success against Auburn in reining, where they won seven of the 10 points combined in the two meets.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ 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.
MIERZEJEWSKI NAMED SEC SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR FOR SECOND STRAIGHT SEASON
â€¢ South Carolina senior Bailey Mierzejewski was named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season on April 4.
â€¢ The Mount Sterling, Ohio, native carries a 4.0 GPA in the University of South Carolina’s School of Pharmacy, and she owns a wide collection of academic distinctions.
â€¢ Mierzejewski is a two-time SEC Honor Roll selection, a two-time NCEA All-Academic selection, a Woodrow Scholar, a Plough Pharmacy Scholar, a Dr. L. Clifton Fuhrman Pharmacy Scholar and a Rho Chi Honor Society initiate. She’s been named to Carolina’s President’s List and Dean’s List after each of her semesters at Carolina.
â€¢ Mierzejewski was also awarded an All-SEC spot in horsemanship; she holds a record of 6-6-2 and went 3-1-2 in SEC regular-season competitions.
GUTE NAMED SEC REINING RIDER OF THE YEAR, FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICAN
â€¢ South Carolina freshman Caroline Gute was named 2016-17 SEC Reining Rider of the Year on April 4 and was given a spot on the NCEA All-America First Team on April 6.
â€¢ Gute sports a 9-2-2 record in reining and went 5-0, a perfect record, in SEC competition. Her .818 winning percentage leads all Gamecocks across all events.
â€¢ The Dublin, Ohio, native is the first Gamecock in history to win the SEC’s Reining Rider of the Year honor. She also took home the SEC’s Freshman Reining Rider of the Year award along with All-SEC and All-Freshman team honors.
â€¢ Gute’s SEC Rider of the Year award is the sixth in Gamecock history, with the freshman joining a group that includes Johnna Letchworth (2013 and 2014 Horsemanship Rider of the Year), Kimberly McCormack (2013 Fences Rider of the Year) and Katherine Schmidt (2014 Fences and Flat Rider of the Year).
â€¢ Gute is the 11th Gamecock to earn First Team All-America honors since 2011 and the second Carolina rider to win the award in reining, joining Layla Choate (2015).
CLEGG NAMED TO SEC COMMUNITY SERVICE TEAM
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ 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.
GAMECOCKS HONORED BY SEC, NCEA WITH POSTSEASON AWARDS
â€¢ In addition to Gute and Mierzejewski, the Gamecocks had three more student-athletes named to the All-SEC team: Chloe Schmidt (equitation on the flat), Madison Sellman (equitation over fences), Sydney Smith (equitation over fences)
â€¢ Along with Gute, Sellman (equitation on the flat and equitation over fences) and Jordan Scott (reining) were placed on the SEC All-Freshman Team.
â€¢ Also, Gute was joined on the NCEA All-America Team by Honorable Mention selections Schmidt (equitation on the flat) and Bridgett White (reining).
GAMECOCKS FEATURED IN SEC MONTHLY HONORS
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ All three Gamecocks went 2-0 in their winning months.
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 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.