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Jan. 31, 2009

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BLYTHEWOOD, S.C.Megan Massaro earned MVP rides in equitation on flat and equitation over fences to lead the No. 7 South Carolina equestrian team to a 13-7 victory over No. 2 Texas A&M Saturday at One Wood Farm.

With the team win, Carolina improves its overall record to 3-4 on the year while the Aggies drop to 5-2. The Hunter Seat team won 9-1 to improve to 4-3 on the year, and the Western team dropped a close meet 6-4 to fall to 2-5 on the year. Saturday marked the first regular season meet between the two traditional equestrian powers.

“I’m very pleased with the overall result,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “Hunter Seat was the first time this year that we put it all together. The team rode extremely well today. That’s what we’re looking for. I’m really pleased with Megan Massaro. I’m really proud with her performance. We’re excited she’s doing so well, as did everyone. As a whole we have to keep working harder.”

South Carolina earned a convincing 9-1 victory in Hunter Seat after sweeping equitation 5-0 and earning a 4-1 win over fences. Massaro had the high scores of 87 in equitation and 85 over fences to lead the Gamecocks to the win. In equitation on the flat, Babcock also scored an 87 to continue her unbeaten season and improve to 4-0-1 on the year. Victoria Middleton began the day with an 85-83 win before Sarah Stephens defeated Texas A&M’s Christina Heine 83-74 to give Heine her first road loss of the season. Rachel Koggan (80-74) finished the sweep for the Gamecocks.

In equitation over fences, Eleanor Kunsman improved to 4-1 on the year with an 81-76 win. Rachel Koggan earned her first win of the season with a 78-72 victory. Courtney Reese had the largest margin of victory win an 80-62 score to finish the Hunter Seat scoring for the Gamecocks.

On the Western side, Carolina dropped horsemanship to a close score of 3-2 to begin the day. Katie Grossnickle improves to 5-1-1 on the year after her 73-72.5 win. Hailey Thornton won 72-70.5 for her third win of the year for Carolina’s second point. Texas A&M’s Katie Lisabeth earned MVP honors after a 69.5-67 victory against Maggie Fortune that clinched the A&M horsemanship win.

In reining, Rebekah Roof and Chloe Gray both earned their fourth wins of the season as Texas A&M took a 3-2 overall edge. Roof won a 71.5-68.5 ride while Gray took a 69.5-64.5 victory. Texas A&M’s Tara Christiansen earned MVP honors with a 73.5 ride.

“We knew Texas A&M is extremely strong in Western,” Major said. “I’m proud of our Western girls for hanging in there and doing a good job. I’m not satisfied with what we’ve done but we’re making good progress. Hats off to Texas A&M. They handled themselves well and did a nice job adjusting to the our horses.”

Carolina will travel next weekend when they take on S.EC. rival No. 1 Auburn Saturday, Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. at the Auburn Equestrian Center.