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Oct. 4, 2008

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BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – The South Carolina equestrian team dropped a close 10-6 decision Saturday at One Wood Farm in a meet featuring the No. 3 Gamecocks and No. 2 Auburn Tigers. The teams combined for four ties and Auburn swept MVP honors.

“It was a disappointing day for us,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “We had some very good moments regardless of the outcome of the score. I was very pleased with the way our girls rode on the flat. They were excellent on the hunt seat side. We had a couple of girls that had positive rides in horsemanship, especially Katie Grossnickle who had a 74.5 which is pretty unheard of. I think we made some mistakes over fences that cost us the overall win in the hunt seat that you just can’t make against somebody like Auburn. In reining we did a good job but it just wasn’t our day today.”

In the Western portion, competition went down to the final ride of the day as Auburn was able to sneak by with a 5-4 victory despite Carolina holding a 703-700 point advantage. In the first event of the day, both teams earned two points in horsemanship as Hailey Thornton and Katie Grossnickle posted victories for the Gamecocks. Grossnickle recorded the high score of the event in a 74.5-69.5 win, a strong five-point margin of victory. Freshman Maggie Fortune rode to a 73.5-73.5 tie with Auburn’s Shannon Hinton, who won MVP honors.

Despite posting an identical score of 348.5 to Auburn in reining, the Gamecocks dropped a 3-2 decision. Sophomore Chloe Gray improved to 2-0 on the year with a 71-70 victory against Kim Pope. Rebekah Roof recorded Carolina’s other victory in reining at 68-64.5.

In a competition between the two teams that won the past four Hunter Seat national championships, Auburn edged South Carolina 5-2 in the Hunter Seat portion Saturday. The Gamecocks, three-time Hunter Seat national champions from 2005-07, posted a score of 749 in Hunter Seat to Auburn’s 769.

The 2008 Hunter Seat national champion, Auburn took a 2-0 win in equitation on the flat after the two teams recorded three ties in what ended up being a close division. Victoria Middleton (77), Megan Massaro (71) and Sarah Stephens (74) all recorded ties against their opponents to begin the Hunter Seat competition. However, the Tigers were able to take two points when MVP rider Rebecca Rifkin recorded a high score of 78 in a win and Chelsea Anheuser edged Nicole Bourgeois 74-70.

The two teams again had a close score in equitation over fences as Auburn took the 3-2 victory. Megan Massaro had the high score for the Gamecocks in an 83-81 win against Alexandra Loprete, marking Massaro’s second straight victory over fences to start the season. Eleanor Kunsman recorded Carolina’s other victory in an 82-72 ride against Jessica Braswell, also marking her second straight victory over fences. The 10-point margin of victory was the largest of the day for any rider.

“Kudos to Auburn for coming prepared,” Major said. “They seemed ready to compete and ready to go, so we want to congratulate them for a good win. We have three weeks now to look towards to going to Texas and competing against Baylor and TCU so we’ll go back to the drawing board, work a little bit harder and see if we can improve the mistakes we made and continue to ride the way we know these girls can ride.”

The Gamecocks are now 1-1 in the Hunter Seat, 1-1 in Western, and 1-1 overall. Carolina next travels to Waco, Texas for a competition against Baylor on Oct. 25.