WACO, Texas - No. 1 South Carolina's bid for a third overall national championship fell short on Saturday, as the Gamecocks lost the championship meet in a tiebreaker to the University of Georgia at the Extraco Events Center. The meet ended in a 8-8 tie, but the Bulldogs prevailed on the tiebreaker, 2,323.5-2,219.
"We're certainly disappointed, but when you're competing against a good team like Georgia, you can't make mistakes, and unfortunately we made a few mistakes that we couldn't get back," South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. "But I can't tell you how proud I am of this team - we started out behind, then we got ahead, and just weren't able to carry it out in the long run. Our girls handled themselves beautifully, and I couldn't be more proud of them."
Saturday's competition began in the covered arena, where the Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead after winning 3-of-4 points in equitation on the flat. South Carolina junior Alexa Anthony won the first point of the meet, knocking off Kylee Arbuckle, 142-128. But the Bulldogs went on to win the final three flat points to take a 3-1 lead.
The Gamecocks put on a dominating performance in horsemanship, winning 3-of-4 points to tie the meet at 4-4. In her final ride as a Gamecock, western team captain Alison Ceresani defeated Paige Stawicki, 148-141.5.
The Bulldogs won the next point to take a 4-2 lead, but back-to-back wins from Sam Chiodo and Johnna Letchworth evened the score at four apiece. Chiodo knocked off the Bulldogs' Heather Schmidt, 150.5-144. In her final horsemanship ride as a Gamecock, Letchworth saved one of her best career rides for the end, tying an event-high score 155.5 to knock off Georgia's Anna Sasser by 3.5 points.
Carolina built on its lead in equitation over fences, again winning 3-of-4 points to take a 5-4 lead heading in to the final event. Sophomore Samantha Smith won the first jumping point to give the Gamecocks a 5-4 advantage when she knocked off Liza Finsness, 161-137.
The Bulldogs won the next point to tie it at five apiece, but juniors Amber Henter and Katherine Schmidt posted back-to-back wins, allowing Carolina to take a 7-5 lead. Henter posted a 167 to defeat Georgia's Arbuckle by 27-points, and Schmidt followed with an event-high score 170, defeating the Bulldogs' Meg O'Mara by 11 points.
In reining, Georgia opened with three straight points to take a 8-7 lead over the Gamecocks. Junior Layla Choate closed out the meet with a 139-135.5 win over Georgia's Charley Thiel to tie the meet at 8-8, where the Bulldogs prevailed in the tiebreaker.
1-0 : Alexa Anthony defeats Kylee Arbuckle, 142-128, on Sparky.
1-1 : Liza Finsness defeats Kelsey Hart, 152-140, on Calvin.
1-2 : Olivia Dorey defeats Samantha Smith, 150-145, on Gideon.
1-3 : Meg O'Mara defeats Katherine Schmidt, 149-142, on Overtime.
2-3 : Alison Ceresani defeats Paige Stawicki, 148-141.5, on Sly.
2-4 : Sara Parr defeats Katie Kopf, 155.5-147, on Matt.
3-4 : Sam Chiodo defeats Heather Schmidt, 150.5-144, on Skip.
4-4 : Johnna Letchworth defeats Anna Sasser, 155.5-152, on Smokey.
5-4 : Samantha Smith defeats Liza Finsness, 161-137, on Sam.
5-5 : Abby O'Mara defeats Alexa Anthony, 149-142, on Changoo.
6-5 : Amber Henter defeats Kylee Arbuckle, 167-140, on Wyatt.
7-5 : Katherine Schmidt defeats Meg O'Mara, 170-159, on Mojo.
7-6 : McKenzie Lantz defeats Johnna Letchworth, 145-134.5, on Chex.
7-7 : Lauren Garmon defeats Sarah Bouchard, 138.5-0, on Cash.
7-8 : Lauren Tieche defeats Cody McMillion, 147.5-135, on Larry.
8-8 : Layla Choate defeats Charley Thiel, 139-135.5, on Cowboy.
Final Score: Georgia wins on the tiebreaker, 2,323.5-2,219.
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