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Jan. 16, 2009

BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – The South Carolina equestrian team has finished the first semester of competition and school, and now Coach Boo Major’s team will prepare to tackle the second portion of the season beginning next Saturday at UT-Martin.

Looking back at the fall season, Coach Major and assistant coaches Ruth Sorrel and Alixe Schwartz were prepared to face the losses of 2008 seniors Katy Biffle, Allison Bradley, Lindsay Williams and Kristen Terebesi, who won the individual national championship last year in both equitation on the flat and equitation over fences. The Gamecocks opened the season with a strong 13-4 victory against Kansas State at One Wood Farm, marking the 14th consecutive regular season win at Carolina’s home facility before Auburn ended the streak the next weekend with a 10-6 win. Major’s team then hit the road for the remainder of the season, battling Baylor, TCU and 2008 national champion Georgia before dropping all three contests, something that has not happened often in Major’s career at South Carolina where she has amassed 42 victories since the current varsity format began in 2005, the second-most victories nationally during the span.

“We didn’t have as strong of a fall as we would have liked, but we had some girls give us good rides,” Major said. “Some of the one’s that stick out initially are Katie Grossnickle in horsemanship, Carly Babcock on the flat and Nicole Bourgeois and Eleanor Kunsman over fences. Katie has been solid for us all year, and Lydia Roof has also been a welcome addition to the Western team in reining.”

Indeed, Grossnickle has been a star for the Western team with three wins and a tie in five rides. The senior earned her first MVP ride of the year in a 74.5-68.5 victory at TCU. Sophomore Lydia Roof has also performed well after transferring from Stephen F. Austin last year, compiling three wins in five rides in reining.

Babcock has made the most of her rides, posting two wins in three meets with an MVP to go along with it. A junior, she had a strong Texas swing after earning a 91-85 win at Baylor and recording her MVP ride in an 88-88 draw at TCU. Over fences, sophomore Eleanor Kunsman had three wins in four rides for the best win percentage on the team. She won both rides at One Wood Farm and also took a victory at TCU. Also in the event, junior Nicole Bourgeois had three wins in five rides, winning at Georgia, TCU and against Kansas State.

In the classroom, three Gamecocks excelled as well as junior Emily Bookwalter, senior Stacy Cell and freshman Colvin Hedgepeth all made the President’s List for the fall semester with 4.0 GPA. In addition, six other members made the Dean’s List (3.5 GPA): senior Sarah Stephens, juniors Nicole Bourgeois and Alex Haskell, and freshmen Paige Dekko, Rachel Koggan and Annie Laurie McDonald.

“I am extremely proud of our three 4.0’s from Stacy, Colvin and Emily,” Major said. “I am also proud of the other girls that did what they needed to do to be successful in and out of the classroom.”

With the spring season opener scheduled to begin January 24 at UT-Martin, Major hopes that the team will continue to work hard in the classroom and push in its fight for a solid standing in the Southern Equestrian Championship and Varsity Equestrian National Championship tournaments.