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Feb. 20, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina equestrian team heads to Athens, Ga., for a Saturday competition against rival Georgia at the Animal Science Complex. The competition is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. as Carolina looks to sweep the season series with the Bulldogs for the first time.

The Gamecocks defeated Georgia 11-7 in Blythewood in the fall season finale (November 3, 2007). Kristen Terebesi earned MVP honors in equitation over fences to lead the Carolina Hunter Seat team to a 5-3 win. The Western team defeated Georgia 6-4 in a strong showing despite the Bulldogs claiming MVP honors in horsemanship and reining.

Carolina, Auburn and Georgia are currently in a battle for the No. 1 seed at the Southern Equestrian Championships that will be held March 28-29 at One Wood Farm in Blythewood. Coach Boo Duncan’s team is currently 2-1 against the teams after defeating Georgia once and splitting the series with Auburn. With Auburn at two losses and Georgia currently 1-1 against the teams, the Gamecocks are looking to lock down the top seed by defeating the Bulldogs in Athens for the first time since competition moved to the varsity format.

“It is always challenging to go into Athens and compete,” Duncan said. “We have had two solid performances this semester at home and will look to carry that momentum into Georgia and come out of there with a win. Our team is riding really well right now and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

The Hunter Seat team is 6-2 on the season and has picked up 12 MVP honors in eight competitions. In equitation over fences, Terebesi (6-1) and junior Sarah Stephens will join the sophomore trio of Eleanor Kunsman (3-1-2), Nicole Bourgeois (2-4) and Megan Massaro (5-2). Eight of the 12 MVP’s have come over fences with Terebesi, Massaro and Bourgeois each earning the honor at least once this season. It will be the first ride over fences this season for Stephens. Kunsman is undefeated in her last four rides, picking up two wins and two ties.

Equitation on the flat will be led by Terebesi (4-3), Massaro (3-2), Stephens (4-1-1), Alex Haskell (3-2-1) and Victoria Middleton (2-4). Terebesi has three MVP rides, including two the past two weekends, while Middleton also has earned the honor this season. Haskell has won her last three rides while Stephens and Massaro have each picked up wins in their last two.

The Western team brings a 4-4 record into Athens after picking up wins in its last three competitions – Georgia, New Mexico State and Auburn. They are coming off their best performance of the season, an 8-2 victory against Auburn. The Gamecocks will use the same nine Western riders this week after earning the win and sweeping MVP honors.

Allison Bradley (5-4), Katie Grossnickle (4-4), Amy Biffle (5-3), Emily Bookwalter (1-1) and Hailey Thornton (3-4) will ride in horsemanship after going 4-1 last week. Bradley won MVP honors twice this season, both coming against Auburn. She will combine with Lindsay Williams (2-5), Rebekah Roof (3-4), Chloe Gray (5-2-1) and Kyla Thurlow (2-6) in reining, the same lineup since that has helped the team win the past three competitions. Thurlow, Roof and Williams each have MVP rides this season.

Alternates for Saturday’s competition include Lindsay Pace (equitation over fences), Courtney Reese (equitation on the flat), Michelle Grah (horsemanship) and Amy Biffle (reining).