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March 29, 2008

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BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – The Southern Equestrian Championships went down to a tiebreaker with top-seed Georgia claiming the victory over second-seed South Carolina after the two teams tied 10-10 in the championship round. Georgia won the raw score tiebreaker by a slim margin, 1331.5-1330, to win their fifth overall S.E.C. title and fourth consecutive.

After tying 10-10 at the conclusion of the championship, each team dropped the lowest individual score on the Western and Hunter Seat sides. The teams then added the scores from the remaining 18 rides to determine the raw score for the tiebreaker. South Carolina recorded scores of 692 in the Hunter Seat and 638 in Western while Georgia finished with a 695 in the Hunter Seat and 636.5 in Western.

The Gamecocks head into April’s Varsity Equestrian National Championships with an 8-5 overall record. The Hunter Seat team is 8-4 on the season after dropping a 6-4 decision Saturday while the Western team improves to 8-5 with a 6-4 victory Saturday. The Western team rides into the national championships having won seven of their last eight rides dating back to the fall season finale.

“The Western team really came prepared to ride, especially our Reiners,” South Carolina head coach Boo Duncan said. “They were magnificent. I was really disappointed with the Hunter Seat team. We could have done better. Of course every loss is a disappointment but it’s nice to know that we’re comparable to Georgia. A 1.5 difference out of 1000 points, I would say we’re two pretty even teams. I’m sure we’ll see them again in Waco (at the VENC’s). We hope we will have a better outcome. We gave it our best shot. We have two and a half weeks to prepare for Nationals. Hopefully we’ll win another national championship.”

Victoria Middleton earned MVP honors in equitation on the flat in a 76-74 victory to open scoring for the Gamecocks. The MVP ride was the second of the season for the freshman as she helped lead the Gamecock Hunter Seat team on Senior Day. Kristen Terebesi recorded the largest margin of victory Saturday after taking a 72-63 win on the flat. The Bulldogs rebounded with the other three wins in equitation to give Georgia a 3-2 decision.

The Bulldogs took a 3-2 decision in equitation over fences. Kristen Terebesi rode to an 88-84 victory to earn her 10th MVP honor of the season. Terebesi improves to 19-6 on the year and is in the midst of an eight-ride winning streak that includes three MVP rides. Friday MVP Nicole Bourgeois took a 76-71 decision to record Carolina’s second point in the event. The win was the fourth consecutive for Bourgeois over fences.

Allison Bradley recorded the high score in horsemanship to win her fourth MVP honor of the season. Bradley recorded a 74-67.5 win – her seventh consecutive victory – to lead the Gamecocks to a 3-2 decision in horsemanship. Friday MVP Katie Grossnickle continued her strong riding with a 73-72.5 victory while Katy Biffle recorded a 73-72 win for his second victory over the Bulldogs this season.

Rebekah Roof recorded a 68.5-67 win against Andrea Turnbull in reining to record her fifth straight victory. Roof has not lost a ride since the spring season began, posting victories over New Mexico State, Auburn twice and Georgia twice in the streak. Bradley earned a 67-0 decision after Georgia’s Nichole Grant came down with a disqualification. Kyla Thurlow went into the final ride of the championship needing a win with Georgia leading 10-9. Thurlow, a freshman from Pompano Beach, Fla., responded with a beautiful ride to record the highest reining score of the day in a 73.5-72 victory over MVP Diandra St. Hilaire of Georgia.

“It’s really disappointing to lose,” Roof said following the tiebreaker. “That shows how strong the S.E.C really is. It was a tight race and the Western team definitely pulled out our best stuff. We look forward to seeing Georgia at Nationals.”

The Gamecocks are next in action when they defend their 2007 national championship at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships, hosted by Baylor University. The championships will be held April 17-19 at the Heart of Fair Texas Complex in Waco, Texas.

Schedule of Events
Friday, March 28 – #2 South Carolina def. #3 Auburn, 14-5
Saturday, March 29 – #1 Georgia tied #2 South Carolina, 10-10 (UGA wins on tiebreaker, 1331.5-1330)

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) Georgia, 2) South Carolina, 3) Auburn