Skip to main content
Partner logo
Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Gamecocks+

Sept. 18, 2008

Gamecock equestrian has proven to be one of the elite programs in the country with five combined team national titles and three individual national titles since 2004. The first major school to sponsor the sport, Coach Boo Major has coached her program to the overall national championship in 2005 and 2007 as well as to three Hunter Seat national championships. Following a 2007-08 season that ended short of Major’s high yet attainable expectations of national championships, the 2008-09 season has all of the pieces to put Carolina in a position to once again ride to the top of the equestrian world.


The South Carolina Hunter Seat team has been one of the strongest in the nation since equestrian moved to the varsity format in 2005. Under the guidance of Major, the team won an unprecedented three consecutive national championships from 2005-07, highlighted by a perfect 15-0 run in the 2007 season to mark the first time that a team went through an entire regular and postseason undefeated. However, for the first time since the move to the varsity format and the championship streak began, the Gamecocks will be without standout Kristen Terebesi who on the individual national championships in equitation on the flat and equitation over fences last season.

Fortunately, the Gamecocks return a core of experienced and talented riders. Six of the seven riders that competed at the Southern Equestrian Championships and Varsity Equestrian National Championships last season return for Carolina. The lone senior in that group is Sarah Stephens (Chalfont, Pa.), a dual threat rider that posted an 11-5-1 record last season in both Hunter Seat events combined. Boosted by a five ride winning streak, Stephens ended the season with two consecutive wins at the VENC’s.

A quartet of juniors joins Stephens to round out the majority of top returners in Nicole Bourgeois (Sherwood, Ore.), Alex Haskell (Cincinnati, Ohio), Eleanor Kunsman (Flemington, N.J.) and Megan Massaro (Summerfield, Fla.). Bourgeois posted two MVP rides during the year over fences and finished with a 4-1 record in the postseason. Haskell, who in her career has not lost a regular season match at One Wood Farm and defeated national seed Rebecca Rifkin at Blythewood, and Kunsman, a transfer last year, posted identical 6-5-2 records as they routinely were matched up with some of the nation’s top riders. As the only returning Hunter Seat rider to compete in every regular and postseason competition, Massaro has a 21-13 record in her first two seasons for Carolina. She posted three MVP rides over fences and went 5-1 on the year against eventual Hunter Seat national champion Auburn.

Sophomore Victoria Middleton (Marietta, Ga.) enjoyed a strong freshman campaign and was the only Carolina rider to go undefeated at the VENC’s with a 3-0 record in equitation on the flat. A one-point loss to Auburn in the S.E.C. first round was the only thing holding her back from a perfect run in the postseason.

Other returning Gamecocks to watch are seniors Lindsay Pace (Camden, S.C.), who sports a perfect 9-0 record at S.E.C.’s and VENC’s since 2006, team captain Courtney Reese (Tryon, N.C.) and junior Katie Stenberg (Rehoboth, Mass.).

South Carolina welcomes four newcomers to the team including South Carolina native Tara Gail Bostwick (Aiken, S.C.), 2006 USEF Large Pony Hunters national champion Paige Dekko (Naples, Fla.) and standouts Rachel Koggan (Montclair, N.J.) and Colvin Hedgepeth (Beaverdam, Va.). The team will also welcome Molly Hay (Ridgefield, Conn.) in January.


Much like the Hunter Seat team, Western coach Ruth Sorrel returns the bulk of her major contributors from last season with five of nine S.E.C. and VENC team members returning for another run in 2008-09. Gone are heralded graduates Katy Biffle, Allison Bradley and Lindsay Williams, leaving Carolina with three returning riders in horsemanship and two in reining.

Seniors Katie Grossnickle (Winona Lake, Ind.) and Rebekah Roof (Lexington, S.C.) will lead the Gamecocks in horsemanship and reining, respectively. Grossnickle, a three-time S.E.C. and VENC team member, has a 26-12 career record in horsemanship with a 12-6 record in postseason competition. Roof, a 2008 team captain, became one of the nation’s hottest riders last spring when she posted a 7-2 record after the fall break, a stretch that included an MVP ride and a perfect record at the S.E.C.’s.

Also returning in horsemanship are junior Amy Biffle (Taft, Texas) and sophomore Hailey Thornton (Mishawaka, Ind.). Biffle was one of four Western riders to compete in all regular and postseason competitions, going 10-8-1 overall. She ended the regular season with consecutive MVP rides in horsemanship against Delaware State and Sacred Heart. Thornton was the lone regular freshman rider in horsemanship and competed at the S.E.C.’s where she defeated Auburn in the first round.

In addition to Roof, reining will be led by returning VENC team member Chloe Gray (Tampa, Fla.), a sophomore that became a pleasant addition by riding in all regular and postseason competitions in her first collegiate season. In addition, she competed at the 2007 Adequan North American Affiliate Championships in December. Gray came on strong at the beginning of the season, winning six of her first eight rides before going 2-2 at the VENC’s. An accomplished reiner, Gray was one of 12 collegians to qualify for and compete in the NRHA Collegiate Reining Championships in June where she placed seventh.

Another returning Gamecocks to watch is junior Emily Bookwalter (Fillmore, Ind.), a rider that specializes in horsemanship but can also compete in reining. She posted victories against Auburn and Sacred Heart.

The Western team welcomes five newcomers to the team in 2008-09, including transfers from Stephen F. Austin and East Carolina. Maggie Fortune (Hartford, Conn.), Annie Laurie McDonald (Maiden, Va.) and Taylor Singmaster (Lansdale, Pa.) will bolster the Western team as freshman horsemanship riders. Jacquelyn McCaslin (Lincolnton, N.C.) is a sophomore transfer from East Carolina that has the ability to contribute in both events. Another sophomore, Lydia Roof, transfers into the program from Stephen F. Austin. Roof, the younger sister of senior Rebekah Roof, will be an addition in reining.


The South Carolina equestrian team will once again compete with one of the nation’s toughest schedules as the 2008-09 schedule will include at least nine competitions against seven of the top nine VENC finishers last season.

Carolina will host six competitions at One Wood Farm where the Gamecocks have won their last 14 regular season contests dating back to October 21, 2005. Home dates include competitions against 2008 national champion Georgia, national reserve champion (runner-up) Texas A&M, third place national finisher Auburn and perennial power Kansas State. Carolina will also host Sacred Heart and Delaware State in the spring season.

“Competing against schools in the S.E.C is always a challenge,” Major said. “Each year we usually beat each other up, which in the long run is good for us when we get to the Varsity Equestrian National Championships. The S.E.C has had the national champion since varsity equestrian started having the championship. We’re excited about having Texas A&M come to us this year. We have not competed against them in this format during the regular season. I think we have a good schedule and can’t wait for the fall.”

The Gamecocks open the fall season with two home dates, hosting Kansas Sate on September 19 before taking on Southern Equestrian Championship conference rival Auburn on October 4. South Carolina then heads for a two-day Texas swing with successive competitions against Baylor (Oct. 25) and Western national champion TCU (Oct. 26). Carolina will then close the fall season with a trip to Athens, Ga., to compete against overall national champion Georgia on November 18.

Carolina opens the spring season at UT-Martin (Jan. 24) before hosting Texas A&M (Jan. 31) for the first time and traveling to Auburn for a return trip on February 7. A two-competition weekend follows at One Wood Farm with Sacred Heart (Feb. 20) and Georgia (Feb. 21) traveling to Blythewood before Carolina treks to Fresno, Calif., for a competition against Fresno State (Feb. 28). The Gamecocks conclude the regular season hosting Delaware State on March 28.

The Southern Equestrian Championships will be held in Athens, Ga., this season from April 3-4. Head-to-head season match-ups between South Carolina, Auburn and Georgia determines seeding for the S.E.C championship with the top seed earning a bye to Saturday’s championship round. One of the three SEC teams has won the national championship every season since the current varsity format was adopted in 2003, making the regular season competition and championship strong tests for the Gamecocks before the Varsity Equestrian National Championships held April 16-18 in Waco, Texas.