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May 9, 2004

Columbia,S.C. – Tara Brothers won the equestrian Hunter Seat National Championship at the IHSA Nationals in Murfreesboro,Tenn this past weekend. Brothers defeated 28 other competitors during the three day competition to earn the title.

Brothers began the competition on Thursday by placing seventh in the flat phase. Coach Duncan’s and Brothers’ plan was to be in the top ten after the flat phase, knowing that the next days’ competition would be her strongest phase.

Trailing the leader Megan Palmer, of Miami of Ohio by seven points, Brothers was in position to win if she could produce a solid jumping round. During Friday’s jumping phase, Brothers put in the best round of the day with a score of 95, besting second place finisher Meredith Houx of Texas A&M by three points.

The combination of Brothers’ scores for the first two days put her in the lead by four points over Houx. The final phase of competition took place on Saturday when the top five were asked to perform a demanding test over a shortened jumping course.

The top five were Brothers, Houx, Amy Lowery of University of Massachusetts, Vanessa Stevenson of Conneticut College and Jill Douglas of Lehigh University. Brothers once again put in a solid performance that kept her on top and allowed her to capture the Cacchione Cup and in the process become the first USC athlete to win a National Title in the sport of equestrian.

Brothers is the second individual to win a national title this year at USC. Diver Allison Brennan won the one meter springboard competition at the 2004 Swimming and Diving competition in March.

“Tara was extremely confident this past weekend” Coach Boo Duncan said. “She was really on top of her game in all three parts of the competition. Her relaxed demeanor and ability to focus under extreme pressure allowed her to concentrate on the details of her performance that put her ahead of the others. There was no question she had won the National Title before the judges’ decision was announced- she was that good.”

“I had a lot of confidence going into the championship” Brothers said. “I was very fortunate to draw wonderful horses. It was a very competitive group of riders.”

1. Tara Brothers – USC

2. Jill Douglas- Lehigh University

3. Vanessa Stevenson – Conneticut College

4. Amy Lowery – Umass

5. Meredith Houx – Texas A&M