NO. 8 SOUTH CAROLINA EARNS DRAMATIC VICTORY OVER NO. 2 GEORGIA
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. — A huge early-season showdown went the way of the Gamecocks on Sunday morning as the eighth-ranked University of South Carolina equestrian team edged No. 2 Georgia, 9-8, at One Wood Farm. Carolina is now 2-1 (1-1 SEC) with the win.
Much like last week’s matchup with Texas A&M, the battle between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs went down to the final point. Tied 8-8, Carolina got a 74.5-74 victory from Paige Stopperich to clinch the victory and defeat their second top-five opponent of the season.
Georgia falls to 0-1 (0-1 SEC) with the loss.
“Our girls rode very well today," South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. "We certainly did have some mistakes here and there, and we had some nerves here and there that we’ve got to work on, but I couldn’t be happier. Georgia is a fantastic team, and we knew it was going to take a lot for us to come out on top. I couldn’t be happier with the effort our girls made today.”
Two of the five reining points finished in ties, but Carolina won two of the remaining three matchups. Making her official collegiate debut, Raegan Renfroe knocked off Lindsey Cheek, 70.5-69.5, on Paddy. In the final contest, September SEC Rider of the Month Madison Thiel earned a 69.5-67.5 triumph over her sister, Charley Thiel, on Magnum. Gamecocks Bailey Walters and Jordan Scott finished with ties.
Renfroe left the meet not only with her first career victory, but also with her first M.O.P. honor.
Georgia opened the hunt seat portion of the event by taking three of the five points in jumping. Carolina did have two riders finish victorious, however; Chloe Schmidt snagged a 55-40 point over Georgia’s Maddy Darst on Tattoo, and Sydney Smith brought home an 81-74 victory over Sydney Hutchins on Indie.
Georgia took home M.O.P. honors in jumping. Meg O’Mara won her point, 82-80, riding Keaton to earn top honors.
Each side pocketed two points on the flat. Schmidt locked in her second point of the day with an 83-75 win over Madison Newman on Fina, and Lauren Fabiano rode Tattoo to an 84-79 victory over Liza Finsness.
Fabiano claimed M.O.P. honors at the end of the meet. It was her first such honor as a collegian.
The last event to finish on Sunday was horsemanship, and the Gamecocks won three of the five points. Courtney Allen brought home a 72.5-71 win over Graysen Stroud on Amos, but still the Gamecocks trailed 8-7 with two riders left. However, the deficit did not last long. Bailey Mierzejewski rode in and claimed a 70.5-69.5 victory over Anna Hutlas on Barbie, leaving Georgia’s Maddie Anger as the last competitor of the day. Anger earned a 74 on Jazz, but it fell just short of Paige Stopperich’s 74.5 from earlier, and the Gamecocks came away with victory.
Stopperich’s score was the highest of the day in horsemanship, and she won M.O.P. laurels. She left the meet with her first career victory and also her first M.O.P. honor.
• Including Sunday’s three first-time winners, seven different Gamecocks have earned their first career M.O.P. awards this season.
• Sunday’s win was the first for Carolina over Georgia since April 18, 2015 in the NCEA National Championship finals. It was the first home win against the Bulldogs since the SEC Championship match on March 29, 2014, and the first home regular-season triumph against UGA since Feb. 5, 2011.
• Renfroe is the fourth freshman to earn a point for the Gamecocks this season, joining Caroline Gute, Katie Mack and Madison Sellman.