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March 4, 2008

Story By: Clary Wright, South Carolina Media Relations

Allison Bradley knows what it’s like to be a national champion.

“It’s a really good feeling,” the University of South Carolina senior and equestrian team member says. “My freshman year was the first time we won, and then we won again my junior year.”

Indeed, USC’s equestrian team has a pattern for winning. Started in 1997, the program has won two national titles in the past three years (2005, 2007) and took home the reserve championship in 2006. The Gamecock Western team that Bradley competes in earned the Co-Reserve national championship in 2007 despite entering the championships as the seventh seed.

“USC is the only school I considered for equestrian, other than Texas A&M,” Bradley says. A Lancaster, Calif., native and graduate of Bethel Christian, Bradley made her decision after her recruiting trip to South Carolina. However, the move to the opposite side of the country wasn’t as much of a culture shock because of Bradley’s traveling experiences as a child.

“Growing up, I showed horses, so I traveled a lot all around the country and I was able to get a good experience of all the different cultures of the United States,” Bradley said.

She attributes her grandmother in getting her interested in horse showing, and she is the only one in her family that does it. An American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA) World Show competitor in high school, Bradley started riding at the age of seven.

“I was really little,” she says. “My feet didn’t even go past the pad.”

Though she has ridden Western for the Gamecocks for the past four years, Bradley used to compete in both the English and Western disciplines. “I did both on my circuit, but I just enjoy Western more and I’m better at it.”

Bradley posted a 6-2 record at last year’s Varsity Equestrian National Championships (VENC), going 3-1 in both reining and horsemanship. In 2007, she competed in 28 events and finished with a 15-13 record after being named Team MVP in horsemanship in 2006. This season has gone even better for Bradley. She currently sports an 11-7 record with two rides earning her MVP honors. This year she was the only Gamecock to sweep conference rivals Auburn and Georgia, going 4-0 against the two in horsemanship.

Bradley excels in the classroom as well. She was named to the Dean’s List last semester and is a marketing and real estate double-major with a minor in fashion merchandising. She is headed to Dallas this summer for an internship and is anticipating graduation in December.

Now in her final year on the USC equestrian team, Bradley is looking forward to what the season will bring. South Carolina will host the Southern Equestrian Championships (S.E.C.) this year; something that Bradley says gives her team an edge.

“It seems like every school that hosts S.E.C.’s each year wins,” she says. “It’s nice riding your own horses and being at home is an advantage.”

South Carolina looks to claim their first S.E.C. title when they take on Auburn and Georgia at the tournament in March. Carolina has not lost at One Wood Farm, its home facility, since October 21, 2005, and will look to that advantage as they hope to earn their first S.E.C. title. The team has been working hard in their practices and workouts for postseason competition, and Bradley already has her goal set.

“Winning another national championship. There’s really no other goal to have.”