COLUMBIA, S.C. - The fifth-ranked South Carolina equestrian team will host its final home meet of the season on Friday at 1 p.m. when the Gamecocks welcome Delaware State to One Wood Farm in Blythewood. Admission to all Gamecock equestrian events is free.
"This will be a good test for us because Delaware State is a much better team than their record shows," South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. " For us, I think the key will be for our Western team to continue what they've been doing, and hopefully we'll be able to get some points from our Equitation on the Flat group. Since this is our final home meet of the season, I want our riders to take advantage of the home setting and focus on riding well."
SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA The Gamecocks enter Friday's meet ranked fifth in the latest NCEA coaches poll. South Carolina recently snapped a four meet losing streak, as the Gamecocks defeated No. 6 Texas A&M, 12-8 on Saturday. The Gamecocks are currently 5-4 overall and 4-2 in SEC play.
SCOUTING DELAWARE STATE The Hornets are currently 0-10 this season. Delaware State may have the toughest schedule of any non-SEC team this season, as the Hornets are the only non-SEC team this season to compete against three of the four SEC opponents (South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia). The Hornets are familiar with road meets, as they have competed on the road against SMU, New Mexico State, Baylor, Miami of Ohio, Ohio State, Tennessee-Martin, Oklahoma State, Auburn, and Georgia.
SERIES HISTORY Last meeting: South Carolina last faced Delaware State on March 16, 2012 at Gambler's Choice Equestrian Center in Dover, Del. The Gamecocks won three out of four points in each event to defeat the Hornets, 12-3. Carolina swept both Western MVP's as Cody McMillion (Reining) and Johnna Letchworth (Horsemanship) both were named top riders in their events. Katherine Schmidt picked up an MVP for her event-high score and victory in Equitation Over Fences.
Last time in Blythewood: Friday's meet will mark Delaware State's first trip to Blythewood since the 2008-2009 season. It was on March 28, 2009 when South Carolina turned in its best ever performance at home, defeating the Hornets 17-2. Megan Massaro swept both Hunt Seat MVP's, and Rebekah Roof (Reining) and Katie Grossnickle (Horsemanshp) combined to sweep the Western MVP's. The Hunt Seat team won 8-1, while the Western team cruised to a 9-1 victory.
Last loss to Delaware State: Despite sweeping all four MVP's, the Gamecocks dropped a neutral site meet to Delaware State during the 2010-2011 season. The Western team edged the Hornets on raw scores, 551-542.5, but the Hunt Seat team lost 6-2. Kelsey Hart made her Gamecock debut in the neutral site meet in Waco, Texas, picking up an 82-80 victory in Equitation on the Flat while also winning her first career MVP. Carolyn Curcio was the only other Hunt Seat rider to win her point in the meet, dropping Delaware State's Amanda Hotz, 84-68 en route to her first career MVP. Like Curcio and Hart, Johnna Letchworth earned her first career MVP in the meet, as she cruised to a 73.5-68.5 victory over her opponent.
SEC HONORS LETCHWORTH South Carolina junior Johnna Letchworth was named SEC Co-Horsemanship Rider of the Month for February. The Connecticut native posted a 3-0 record in February, including MVP wins vs. No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Auburn. In her MVP win at Auburn on Feb. 14, she scored an 80.5, the highest Horsemanship score in the SEC this season.
Letchworth becomes the third Gamecock and first junior on the team to win SEC Rider of the Month honors, joining redshirt sophomore Amber Henter and Kelsey Urban, who were both named riders of the month by the conference in November.
STREAK SNAPPED South Carolina saw its four meet skid some to a halt last Saturday, as the Gamecocks got back to their winning ways with a 12-8 victory over Texas A&M. The Gamecocks Reining team gave Carolina an early 3-2 lead which quickly turned into an 8-2 lead after a 5-0 sweep in Equitation Over Fences. The Aggies stormed back to win six of the final ten points, but Katherine Schmidt's meet-winning point in Equitation on the Flat combined with late points from Johnna Letchworth and Sam Chiodo prevented Texas A&M from completing its comeback.
GAMECOCK ROAD SHOW After Saturday's meet, South Carolina will not compete at home again this season. Beginning next week, the Gamecocks will compete in four straight dual meets away from Blythewood - on the road at Oklahoma State and Kansas State, and then two meets at the SEC Championships in Auburn later in March.
TURNING 100 Gamecock senior Kimberly McCormack became the first ever rider in team history to reach the 100-ride mark, a feat she accomplished on Saturday against Texas A&M. McCormack picked up her 63rd career point against the Aggies on Senior Day, part of a 5-0 sweep for the Equitation Over Fences squad. McCormack's nine wins are second most this season.
TURNING 50 In the win over Texas A&M on Saturday, sophomore Katherine Schmidt completed her 49th and 50th career rides for the Gamecocks. Schmidt went 2-for-2, winning both of her points over the Aggies, and now sits at 35-15 as she nears the halfway point of her college career. Schmidt's 10 wins this season leads the team.
SAM I AM Sophomore Sam Chiodo continues to to lead the Western team with the best record this season. The Michigan native is 7-1 this season in Horsemanship. She is just one win shy of tying the eight wins she posted last season as a freshman.
UP NEXT The Gamecocks close out their regular season next week when they travel to face Kansas State (March 8) and Oklahoma State (March 9). The inaugural SEC Championships run March 29-30 in Auburn, Ala., followed by the NCEA National Championships, which run April 18-20 in Waco, Texas.