Written by Kyle Heck | Assistant Sports Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Before Johnna Letchworth arrived on campus, the equestrian horsemanship team was a weakness of the overall team, according to coach Boo Major.
Major said that Letchworth, now a redshirt junior, and associate head coach Ruth Sorrel are the main reasons that horsemanship is now one of the team’s strengths.
“I think Johnna has come in and united the horsemanship team to try harder, work harder and do more in practice and I think the combination of [Letchworth and Sorrel] has really helped,” Major said. “She’s a real competitor. I’ll tell you right now, she is one of the hardest workers on this team.”
Letchworth, who is from Harwinton, Conn., chose USC over Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. The junior said she chose the Gamecocks because “it was a really good fit” and she loved the campus and coaching staff.
Now Letchworth will try to help her team snap a three-game losing streak when they travel to Auburn on Thursday. USC is coming off a loss to Georgia at home, their first SEC loss of the season. However, the Gamecocks are 2-0 on the road in conference play.
“It’s important (to get a win) for the mental game of the entire team,” Letchworth said. “After the Georgia loss, we are working extra hard this week to get back on top.”
USC has lost the last three matches by a combined five points, and Major said she is a bit frustrated by not being able to get the matches to go the Gamecocks way. However, she knows that if her team cuts down on a few mistakes, the wins will start coming again.
In the past three matches, the Western team has outscored opponents 9-8 while the Hunt Seat team has been outscored 17-11.
Major said she is a little concerned with the Hunt Seat team’s confidence because those riders have been riding well, but they haven’t been able to get the winning results. However, Major said it shouldn’t affect them too much.
“I think this team is very resilient and I think they believe in themselves and believe they can ride and perform better,” Major said. “I don’t think they are going to go into Auburn worried about whether they are going to win or lose. I think they are going to give it the best they can.”
The Gamecocks fell out of the No. 1 spot in the most recent coach’s poll, dropping to No. 4. Major says that you can’t put a lot of stock into the poll because it is just made up of coaches’ opinions. On top of that, she says the drop is a bit of a blessing; as the No. 1 team, there is an added target on your back, because “everyone is gunning to defeat the No. 1 team,” Major said.
Letchworth agrees, saying that the SEC and NCAA championships in March and April are what matters, not the rankings in February.
With only four SEC teams, the upcoming match against the Tigers is crucial in the quest to capture the first official SEC championship, and Major said Letchworth’s leadership will be a big part of the team’s journey to that goal. But leadership is something Letchworth said she’ll have to work on every day, because “being a leader is not easy.”
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