The Daily Gamecock

USC ends season at national meet

	<p>Senior Kimberly McCormack scored a team-high 176 in her Fences meet against Georgia at nationals last weekend.</p>
Senior Kimberly McCormack scored a team-high 176 in her Fences meet against Georgia at nationals last weekend.

Equestrian takes 3rd place in Hunt Seat, Western events as McCormack completes career

Before last weekend’s national championships, South Carolina coach Boo Major said she felt her team was prepared to make a run.

The Gamecocks got off to a good start after the No. 5-seed Western team knocked off New Mexico State 6-2 in the first round Thursday. The team followed that up with a 5-2 upset win over fourth-seeded TCU Friday to reach the semifinals.

“They were phenomenal against TCU,” Major said. “I was very pleased with that. They were very strong in reining and horsemanship.”

The No. 2 seed USC Hunt Seat team earned a first-round bye before taking on SEC foe Texas A&M on Friday. Major said the Hunt Seat team has had a habit of not being ready for its first meet of nationals in the past, but all that was put to rest when the Gamecocks beat the Aggies 6-2 to advance to the Hunt Seat semifinals against another SEC rival, Georgia.

Major was pleased with the focused effort the Hunt Seat had in the first meet. With the win, USC joined Georgia as the only two schools to advance to the 2013 semifinals in both Western and Hunt Seat competition.

“The two teams rode extremely well those first two days,” Major said. “We were very pleased with where we were.”

The rest of weekend proved to be much more challenging for the Gamecocks. First, the Hunt Seat team committed several costly errors in the Equitation on the Flat portion of the meet, digging itself into a 4-0 deficit. Senior Kimberly McCormack and the Hunt Seat team almost erased the lead in Equitation over Fences, but USC came up just short, losing to the Bulldogs, 5-3, for a third-place finish.

McCormack scored a team-high 176 in her Fences meet against UGA, but Major said that the team just couldn’t overcome the costly errors.

“We just had way too many mistakes,” Major said. “I think three of the four Flat riders had major mistakes that none of them had had all year. You can’t recover from that. Georgia’s too good to do that.”

Meanwhile, the Western team was preparing to take on the No. 1 seed and eventual Western national champion, Oklahoma State. The Cowgirls jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and cruised to a 6-1 victory in Saturday’s semifinal meet, giving the Gamecocks another third-place finish.

Auburn, whom USC defeated in the SEC championship, took the overall national championship along with the Hunt Seat championship.

Major was proud of the way her team rode against Oklahoma State and said the Cowgirls were “just a little bit better than us that day.” Despite the disappointment that the Gamecocks did not take home a national championship, Major said she was still pleased with the season, particularly with the program’s SEC championship.

McCormack’s career, where she cemented herself as one of the most successful riders to come through the program, is over. The New Jersey native ends her USC career with 71 wins in 109 rides, 26 postseason wins and 18 career MVPs — all program records.

McCormack was also recently named the 2012-13 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and to the 2013 National Collegiate Equestrian Association Elite All-Academic First Team.

She has a 4.0 GPA as a geophysics student and Major said McCormack is “smarter than anyone I’ve ever met or know.”

McCormack said when she entered the ring for her final ride against Georgia, which turned out to be the team-high 176 score, she knew it would be her last ride as a Gamecock, as the Bulldogs had already clinched the win.

“It kind of sticks in your head,” McCormack said of the realization. “But it was a nice way to end.”

Now that her career is over, McCormack looks back on it as an once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“As an athlete in college with the time commitments, the people you get to meet and the experiences you get to have, I don’t think you can replicate any of that as a normal student,” McCormack said. “There are definitely things you give up, but I think what you gain is pretty invaluable.”


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