April 17, 2013
Live Video (Thursday's opening ceremony + Hunt Seat and Western competitions)
WACO, Texas - No. 1 South Carolina begins action at the 2013 National Collegiate Equestrian Association's (NCEA) National Championships on Thursday at the Extraco Events Center in Waco. This year's championships run Thursday through Saturday and it also marks the first year of the single-elimination format. This is the seventh consecutive year that Waco and Baylor University have hosted the national championships.
"I think we've had a great couple of weeks of practice and everybody is feeling really good right now," South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. "There's obviously a lot of positive energy and momentum right now from us winning the SEC Championship, but this is a totally new ballgame now and our goal has always been to continuously get better and ride consistently well."
The national championship is divided into two brackets - Hunter Seat and Western. In the Hunt Seat bracket, the Gamecocks earned the No. 2 seed with a record of 9-5 and receive a first-round bye, meaning South Carolina's English team will not have to compete at all on Thursday.
In the Western bracket, South Carolina is the five-seed with an 8-5 record. The Western squad will begin competition on Thursday morning when South Carolina faces No. 12 seed New Mexico State at 10 a.m. ET. The winner will advance to the second round on Friday and face No. 4 seed TCU.
"New Mexico State is a talented team and they've got a group of riders that have gotten some good experience on the road," Major said. "I think after SEC's, our Western riders saw an opportunity to improve and have been working extremely hard in practice. They feel really good right now about where they are and when they're on their A-game, so now they just need to go out and execute."
HISTORY AT NATIONALS
LAST SEASON AT NATIONALS
The Western team, also seeded fifth last year at nationals, opened the tournament with a 6-2 win over Tennessee-Martin. In the afternoon session of Day-1 last year, the Gamecocks then upset No. 4 seed Auburn, 5-3. In their meeting with No. 1 seed Texas A&M, the Gamecocks lost 4-3, setting up an All-SEC third-place meet between Carolina and Georgia. The Bulldogs would go on to win the meet, 5-3, as the Western team finished better than the Hunt Seat team for the first time.
The Hunt Seat team entered last year's nationals as the No. 2 seed, earning a bye from Day-1 action. Despite a 2-for-2 performance from then-freshman Katherine Schmidt, the Gamecocks went 0-for-6 the rest of the meet, as No. 6 seed Texas A&M upset the Gamecocks. The Aggies would go on to win the Hunt Seat championship, along with the overall championship.
WESTERN TEAM VS. NEW MEXICO STATE
The Gamecocks and Aggies last faced each other in Blythewood on March 19, 2011 in the regular season finale for both squads. The Western team cruised to a 6-2 victory, as both the Horsemanship and Reining teams picked up 3-1 victories.
A MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT
SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Kimberly McCormack
2013 All-SEC Team: Audrey Jewell (Reining), Amber Henter (Equitation Over Fences), Johnna Letchworth (Horsemanship), Kimberly McCormack (Equitation Over Fences), Katherine Schmidt (Equitation Over Fences and Equitation on the Flat), Samantha Smith (Equitation on the Flat).
2013 SEC All-Freshman Team: Sarah Bouchard (Reining), Emily Reynolds (Equitation Over Fences and Equitation on the Flat), Samantha Smith (Equitation Over Fences and Equitation on the Flat), Kelsey Urban (Horsemanship).
CERESANI NAMED TO COMMUNITY SERVICE TEAM
A two-year starter in Horsemanship, Ceresani was a 2012 NCEA Honorable Mention All-America selection after going 13-3-1 last season. She has a 4.0 GPA and is one five equestrians who were NCEA Academic First Team selections this year. Ceresani is a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and has made the President's List every semester.
NCEA ALL-AMERICA TEAMS
Johnna Letchworth was named NCEA Second-Team All-American, marking the third straight year she has been named to the All-America team.
Four Gamecocks were named to the NCEA Honorable Mention All-America Team, highlighted by sophomore Katherine Schmidt earning the nod in both Equitation on the Flat and Equitation Over Fences. Sophomore Amber Henter and senior Kimberly McCormack both picked up honorable mention honors in Equitation Over Fences, while sophomore Sam Chiodo earned an honorable mention in Horsemanship.
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