March 29, 2014
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. - No. 1 ranked South Carolina beat No. 2 ranked Georgia on Saturday in a tiebreaker to win the 2014 SEC Equestrian Championship at One Wood Farm. The equestrian team becomes the University of South Carolina's first team to win back-to-back SEC Championships.
It is the University of South Carolina's 13th Southeastern Conference Championship, and the third under athletics director Ray Tanner. The University of South Carolina has won three SEC Championships in the last 12 months (2013 - equestrian, 2014 - women's basketball, 2014 - equestrian).
The final score from Saturday's championship meet was 10-10, with the Gamecocks prevailing on the tiebreaker, 4,040.25-4,036.75. Georgia was unofficially announced as the meet winner, however the standard post-meet review of the scores confirmed that the Gamecocks had in fact won the meet.
"I couldn't be any prouder of our girls today for the way they competed today," South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. "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 coach Boenig's post-meet speech to them in the ring. But 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."
Saturday's meet began in the hunt seat arena, where the Gamecocks picked up a 3-2 decision over the Bulldogs in equitation over fences. Junior Katherine Schmidt won the first point of the meet when she defeated Georgia's Liza Finsness, 178-171, the first of Schmidt's two points on Saturday. The Bulldogs evened the score at one apiece in the next ride, but Carolina would win back-to-back points to take a 3-1 lead. Redshirt sophomore Samantha Smith picked up a 175-165 win over Olivia Dorey, followed by Gamecock junior Alexa Anthony earning a 171-156 decision over Kylee Arbuckle.
In the western arena, the horsemanship team dropped three-of-five points to the Bulldogs, but South Carolina senior Johnna Letchworth earned her second Most Outstanding Player award of the weekend when she defeated Georgia's Anna Sasser, 150.5-139.5. The Bulldogs won the next three points to take a 5-4 lead, but junior Sam Chiodo tied the meet at 5-5 when she picked up a 146-144.5 win over Heather Schmidt, giving Chiodo a perfect 2-0 record at the SEC Championship.
Tied 5-5 as the second half of Saturday's meet got underway, the Bulldogs won the first two points in equitation on the flat to take a 7-5 lead, their largest of the day. Anthony cut Georgia's lead to 7-6 when she beat Georgia's Dorey, 157-126, to earn Most Outstanding Player honors in equation on the flat. Up in the western arena as reining was underway, Letchworth finished off her 2-for-2 day with a 135.5-133 win over Charley Thiel to tie the meet at 7-7.
Still tied with just six points undecided, South Carolina picked up back-to-back wins to take a 9-7 lead. In the flat arena, Schmidt finished her 2-for-2 day and 4-for-4 weekend with a 156-139 win over Georgia's Caitlyn Francis. In the western arena, Sarah Bouchard gave the Gamecocks a 9-7 lead when she defeated Georgia's Claudia Spreng, 137.5-134.5. Bouchard's score was unofficially announced as a 134.5, meaning she would have tied Spreng, but the announced score was incorrect, and once it was determined that Bouchard had earned a score of 137.5, she was awarded the point.
After Bouchard won her point, junior Adele Norton gave Carolina a 10-7 lead when she rolled past Georgia's Kylee Arbuckle, 147-115, in equitation on the flat.
In the western arena, Georgia would go on to win the final three reining points to tie the score at 10-10, sending the meet to a tiebreaker, which is a formula that takes in to account each rider's individual score along with the western equivalency score. The Gamecocks prevailed in the tiebreaker, 4,040.25-4,036.75, winning by just 3.5 points.
South Carolina will now begin preparations for the 2014 NCEA National Championships, which run April 17-19 in Waco, Texas.
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