The Southeastern Conference on Wednesday announced its 2014 postseason equestrian awards, as determined by a vote of the league's four head coaches.
South Carolina head coach Boo Major was named SEC Equestrian Coach of the Year for the second straight season.
Major, in her 17th season at the University of South Carolina led the Gamecocks to the 2014 SEC Equestrian Championship, their second in a row, becoming the first team at South Carolina (in any sport) to win back-to-back SEC titles.
This year, the Gamecocks have posted their best regular season in team history, going 11-2 overall and 4-2 in conference action. South Carolina also set a program record with 13 dual meet victories. The Gamecocks have won nine or more points in all 15 of their meets this season and in 21 of their last 22 meets dating back to last year.
The Gamecocks have been ranked No. 1 in the NCEA Rankings since Dec. 2, 2013, a stretch of 19 consecutive weeks, also a record at South Carolina.
"I'm certainly honored to receive this award from an outstanding group of SEC coaches, but this is a reflection on our team and the riders," Major said. We have a terrific group of student-athletes who have committed themselves to succeeding in the classroom and in the competition arena. This year, we had 21 riders named to the NCEA Academic Honor Roll, seven of which were named to the Academic First Team, and that's something we take a lot of pride in. I want to thank Athletics Director Ray Tanner and our University President Dr. Harris Pastides for their leadership and support of our program. I also want to thank everybody in the athletics department for their work and commitment to our team's success, and certainly I want to recognize our assistant coaches Ruth Sorrel and Carol Gwin for what they've done."
Gamecock junior Katherine Schmidt won a pair of SEC Rider of the Year awards, sweeping the honor in both equitation over fences and equitation on the flat. Senior Johnna Letchworth was named SEC Horsemanship Rider of the year for the second straight season.
Schmidt earned SEC Equitation Over Fences Rider of the Year accolades after posting a 14-0 record in the event over the course of the season and earning six MOP honors. An NCEA First-Team All-American in 2014, Schmidt is South Carolina's all-time career wins leader with 72 and has earned 18 hunt seat MOP awards, the most in the history of the program.
She was 2-0 in Equitation Over Fences at the SEC Championship this season, earning her a spot on the SEC All-Championship Team for the second straight year. Schmidt is a three-time SEC Rider of the Month in equitation over fences, earning the conference honor in March 2014, October 2013, and March 2013.
She also is a three-time NCEA Rider of the Month in equitation over fences, earning the national honor in October 2013, September 2013, and March 2013. In the SEC Championship meet victory over Georgia, her second point of the day earned Schmidt her 72nd career win, moving her past former Gamecock Kimberly McCormack as South Carolina's all-time wins leader. McCormack was last year's SEC Equitation Over Fences Rider of the Year.
Schmidt also earned Co-Rider of the Year honors in Equitation On The Flat. She logged an 11-2-1 record on the flat with three MOP awards. Schmidt was named an NCEA First-Team All-American and has just one loss in her last 11 flat rides. Schmidt is currently 6-1-1 on the flat this season against SEC opponents.
In just 15 meets this season, Schmidt has gone 2-for-2 11 times. Last season, Schmidt was named NCEA Rider of the Month in equitation on the flat in March 2013, becoming the first Gamecock to win two national rider of the month awards in the same month.
Letchworth earned her second consecutive Horsemanship Rider of the Year honors, totaling an 11-4 record with eight MOP honors during the season. She posted eight wins in her last nine horsemanship rides of the season, winning MOP awards following both of her horsemanship rides at the SEC Championship.
Letchworth has earned MOP honors in five of her last six horsemanship rides and six of her eight MOP honors have come against SEC opponents this season. In all five of her spring meets against SEC opponents, Letchworth earned MOP honors. She has 60 career wins, making her South Carolina's all-time winningest western rider. Her 25 career MOP awards is a team record, as are her 11 MOP wins this season in horsemanship and reining combined.
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