Feb. 14, 2013
AUBURN, Ala. - No. 4 South Carolina held a 6-4 lead over No. 2 Auburn at the halfway point of Thursday's meet, but the Tigers outscored the Gamecocks 6-3 in the second half, as Carolina fell 10-9 at the Auburn University Horse Center. The Gamecocks are now 4-4 overall and 3-2 in SEC action, while Auburn improves to 6-1 overall and 3-2 in conference play.
The Western team won, 5-4, while the Hunt Seat team lost, 6-4.
"I'm pretty disappointed in our loss today because of how well I actually thought we rode overall," South Carolina head coach Boo Major. "We had three MVP's who had great rides for us, our Western team was outstanding in their win today and our jumpers were great, but we didn't get it done on the Flat and that proved to be the difference."
The Gamecocks jumped out to an early lead after a pair of 3-2 wins by the Horsemanship and Equitation Over Fences squads.
In Horsemanship, the Gamecocks got points from redshirt junior Johnna Letchworth, sophomore Sam Chiodo, and freshman Kelsey Urban. Letchworth picked up her second MVP of the season, as she scored a career-high 80.5 to defeat Auburn's Indy Roper. Urban earned the second-highest score of the event, as she defeated Katsy Leeman, 79.5-76.5. Leading 5-4, Chiodo scored a 76.5 to defeat the Tigers' Hannah Loseke, who scored 61.5.
"Our Horsemanship group was outstanding again for us, and they certainly did their job today," Major said.
Over in the Hunt Seat ring, the Gamecocks got points in Equitation Over Fences from senior Kimberly McCormack, sophomore Katherine Schmidt, and redshirt freshman Samantha Smith. McCormack earned her 17th career MVP, as she scored an event-high 94 to drop Auburn's Elizabeth Benson by 11 points. Schmidt followed McCormack with a 71-69 victory over Hasbrouck Donovan, as she picked up the first of two points on the day. Smith finished the event by winning her point over Jennifer Waxman, 90-71.
"I thought our jumping team was great, and I think their hard work in practice after the Georgia meet showed in the scores," Major said. "I thought both Amber and Sally had strong rides too, they just ended up coming up a little short on the scoreboard."
South Carolina went on to lead 7-4 as Schmidt finished her 2-for-2 day with an 84-72 win in Equitation on the Flat over Lindsay Portela, earning her MVP honors for the second time this season.
After Schmidt's win, the Gamecocks saw their three-point lead turn in to a one-point deficit, as Auburn went on to win the final four Flat points, giving the Tigers an 8-7 lead heading in to Reining.
"As the coach of our Flat team, that one falls on me today," Major said. "Coach Gwin and Sorrel coached their groups up extremely well and their three events got it done for us, and obviously I didn't do as good of a job with the Flat riders. But we'll go back and look at the video as we get ready for Texas A&M and learn from our mistakes."
Trailing 9-7 after the first point in Reining, the Gamecocks tied it at nine apiece as sophomores Layla Choate and Cody McMillion both won their points. Choate defeated Auburn's Hailey Munger, 67.5-61, to cut Auburn's lead to one point. McMillion tied it up 9-9 with a one point victory over the Tigers' Stephanie Rucci, her fourth win of the season.
Auburn took a 10-9 lead moments later as Roper avoided going 0-for-2 with a 77-75 victory over freshman Sarah Bouchard. Roper's 77 was the highest score of the event, and Bouchard's 75 was the second highest.
Leading 10-9 and knowing the senior Audrey Jewell had already scored a 72 in the first round, Auburn's Leeman entered the ring only needing a tie to give the Tigers the win. Leeman delivered, as she tied Jewell with a score of 72, as Auburn held on for the win, snapping the Gamecocks' three-meet winning streak over the Tigers.
"As strong as our Reiners have been all season, I'm sure Audrey would have loved to go in that ring as the final rider, knowing she needed to beat a 72 for us to win," Major said. "But the draw didn't work out that way for us, and her opponent did what she needed to do to give her team the win, and those back-and-forth meets are what you expect out of two great SEC teams."
The Gamecocks will look to end their four meet skid on Feb. 23, when South Carolina hosts No. 6 Texas A&M at 1 p.m. in Blythewood for Senior Day and Equi-Fest. Information on the team's annual Equi-Fest Kids Day will be posted on GamecocksOnline later in the week.
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