BISHOP, Ga. - No. 2 South Carolina jumped out to an early 4-1 lead against No. 1 Georgia on Friday, and never relinquished the lead, as the Gamecocks upset the Bulldogs, 11-8, at the UGA Equestrian Complex. The Gamecocks are now 3-0 overall and 2-0 in SEC play, while the Bulldogs fall to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
Friday's loss marked the second time Georgia had dropped a regular season meet at home. The Bulldogs were 50-1 during the regular season at home entering Friday's meet. For South Carolina, Friday's win marks the Gamecocks' second straight at the UGA Equestrian Complex, as South Carolina upset then-No. 1 Georgia on March 31 to win the Southern Equestrian Championship.
"Very proud of our entire team for this win today," South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. "Georgia is a great team and we knew that we'd have to ride our best in order to win, and I'm just happy for our girls because of how hard they have worked this season."
The Gamecocks jumped out to an early lead on Friday, as South Carolina won four of five points in Equitation Over Fences.
Samantha Smith, Kimberly McCormack, Katherine Schmidt, and Amber Henter all won their rides, giving the Gamecocks an early 4-1 lead. Smith started with a 78-75 win over Megan Southam to improve to 2-1-1 on the season. McCormack followed Smith with a 78-74 victory over Georgia's Olivia Dorey, improving her jumping record to 3-0. Hunt Seat captain Amber Henter improved her record to 3-0 as she picked up a one-point victory over the Bulldogs' Carly Anthony. Georgia's Abby O'Mara prevented the Gamecock sweep, as she defeated South Carolin freshman Sally Henry, 84-71.
"Our jumpers were fabulous today," Major said. "They've looked strong all season and that's a credit to Coach Gwin for her coaching and to the girls for working hard in practice."
In Reining, the Gamecocks won three of five points, giving the Gamecocks a 7-3 lead at the halfway point.
Senior captain Audrey Jewell started Reining with a 70-69 victory over Georgia's Sami Belcher, improving her record to 3-0 this season. Senior Amanda Pope picked up her first win of the season with a 70-56.5 win over Lauren Tieche. Sophomore Layla Choate gave the Gamecocks a 7-3 lead as she defeated Becca Haaland, 68.5-63. Choate's win also improved her record to 3-0 this season.
"Like our Over Fences team, the reiners have been phenomenal this season, and if you look at the scoresheet, they won some critical points for us today," Major said. "Audrey has been doing a great job leading that group, and coach Sorrel has done an outstanding job with them during practice and they really deserved that win today."
Trailing by five, the Bulldogs came back, winning three of five points in Equitation on the Flat to cut South Carolina's lead to 9-6. After giving up the first three points of the event, Henry earned a 61-55 win over Olivia Dorey, improving her record to 4-1 overall and 2-0 on the Flat. Junior Kelsey Hart improved to 2-1 and gave the Gamecocks a 9-6 lead when she dropped Georgia's Kylee Arbuckle, 53-46. Hart's point proved to be the meet-clinching point for Carolina.
"We gave up a few points on the flat, absolutely, and even though I was fairly pleased with the actual rides, we did make some mistakes and I think everybody knows that's an area we'll continue to work on," Major said. "But I'm very happy for Sally and Kelsey for winning their points, and I think our Hunt Seat team overall should be proud of themselves."
The Gamecocks held a 9-6 lead as Horsemanship began, needing just two points to win Friday's meet outright.
Georgia cut the Gamecocks' lead to 9-7 after the Bulldogs' Maria Salazar won her point. But South Carolina slammed the door shut on Georgia's comeback effort, as freshman Kelsey Urban and redshirt junior Johnna Letchworth won their points back-to-back to give the Gamecocks the 11-8 win. Urban, competing in just her second meet as a Gamecock, picked up her first collegiate win and was named Most Outstanding Player for her victory Sara Parr. Letchworth followed Urban with a 76-75.5 win over Anna Sasser.
"Our Horsemanship girls were great today," Major said. "To tie Georgia 2-2 in an event that they are traditionally very strong in - I was pretty happy with that. For Kelsey to win her first Most Outstanding Player award in only her second collegiate ride, and against the No. 1 team in the country - that's a sign of good things to come for her. And Johnna had a terrific ride for us too, and even Alison with her tie - I'm happy with how that group did today."
The Gamecocks close out the fall portion of their schedule with a three-meet trip to Texas in two weeks. South Carolina will compete at Texas A&M (Nov. 16) and Baylor (Nov. 18), and the will wrap-up fall competition with a Hunt Seat meet against SMU on Nov. 18.