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March 28, 2008

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BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – The South Carolina equestrian team defeated Auburn 14-5 Friday in the preliminary round of the Southern Equestrian Championships to record their 14th consecutive win at One Wood Farm in Blythewood. Katie Grossnickle and Nicole Bourgeois earned MVP honors as Carolina advances to the finals against top-seed Georgia.

The Gamecocks and Bulldogs will begin competition at 10 a.m. Saturday morning to determine the winner of the S.E.C. The two teams will meet in the finals for the third time in the last four years as the Gamecocks look to earn their first S.E.C. title. South Carolina will hold Senior Day festivities at 9:15 a.m. as they salute seven seniors making their last appearances at One Wood Farm.

“I’m very proud of our girls today,” South Carolina head coach Boo Duncan said. “They all rode very well. If they come in tomorrow with the same game plan we will have a better chance of winning. Tomorrow is going to be a difficult competition after sweeping Auburn today.”

The Hunter Seat team improved to 9-3 on the year after taking a 7-3 victory against Auburn Friday. The Western team improved to 7-5 with the win against Auburn, giving them six wins in their last seven competitions dating back to a 6-4 victory against Georgia on Nov. 3. The Gamecocks also defeated Auburn 14-5 in their last home competition (Feb. 9, 2008). Carolina has not lost at One Wood Farm since October 21, 2005.

The Gamecocks took a 4-1 decision in equitation over fences with Bourgeois earning MVP honors in an 83-78 victory. Kristen Terebesi took an 80-70 win over Ali Loprete to improve her season record to 10-2 over fences. The senior from Glenmoore, Pa., has not lost a ride this season at One Wood Farm. Sarah Stephens won her second consecutive ride over fences in an 82-62 victory while Eleanor Kunsman also took her second consecutive win (71-68).

South Carolina took a close 3-2 decision in equitation on the flat with Megan Massaro, Stephens and Terebesi recording wins for the Gamecocks. Massaro took a 61-56 ride while Terebesi defeated Coburn Park 66-59. Stephens recorded a close victory in a 68-66 win against Rebecca Rifkin to improve to 7-2-1 on the season on the flat. Victoria Middleton recorded the high score for the Gamecocks at 75 but dropped a close decision to Auburn’s Ali Loprete, who won MVP honors with a 76. Alex Haskell also came within one of her competitor (69-68).

Carolina began the day taking a 4-0 decision in Horsemanship as Amy Biffle, Allison Bradley, Hailey Thornton and Grossnickle took wins. Katy Biffle rode to a 71-71 tie against Amy Bohan. Grossnickle earned MVP honors in a 72-67 win over Kimberly Tidwell, marking her first MVP honor of the season. A junior from Winona Lake, Ind., Grossnickle improved to 3-1 in her career at the S.E.C.’s. Bradley won her third ride in Horsemanship this season against the Tigers with a 73.5-72 victory. Amy Biffle won 73-72 while Thornton took a 69.5-68 decision.

The preliminary round winner was decided at the end of equitation over fences but the Gamecocks continued riding strong in reining, the final event of the day. Bradley, Rebekah Roof and Lindsay Williams recorded victories for the Gamecocks. Roof tied for the highest reining score of the day in a 74.5-73 win while Bradley (68.5-67) and Williams (68-66) both took close rides to help South Carolina sweep wins in all four events.

Directions to One Wood Farm: Take I-77 North to Exit 27, (Blythewood Road). Turn left back over the interstate and past the University Club. Take the first road on the right, which is Syrup Mill Road, and One Wood Farm is the first driveway on the left. Signs will be posted.

Schedule of Events (record vs. S.E.C.)
Friday, March 28 – #2 South Carolina def. #3 Auburn, 14-5
Saturday, March 29 – #1 Georgia (3-1) vs. South Carolina – 10 a.m. (USC Senior Day program at 9:15 a.m.)

History of the Southern Equestrian Championships
2003: 1) Georgia, 2) Auburn, 3) South Carolina
2004: 1) Auburn, 2) Georgia, 3) South Carolina
2005: 1) Georgia, 2) South Carolina, 3) Auburn
2006: 1) Georgia, 2) South Carolina, 3) Auburn
2007: 1) Georgia, 2) Auburn, 3) South Carolina
2008: 1) TBD, 2) TBD, 3) Auburn