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Feb. 21, 2009

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BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – The sixth-ranked South Carolina equestrian team has been nearly unstoppable since the start of the spring season, and Coach Boo Major’s Gamecocks continued their dominance Saturday after knocking off top-ranked Georgia 12-8 at One Wood Farm. It is Carolina’s second win against a top-ranked team this month after the Gamecocks defeated then-No. 1 Auburn 10-8 on the road two weeks ago.

Prior to that victory, South Carolina knocked off then-No. 2 Texas A&M a week earlier at One Wood Farm in a dominating 13-7 performance.

The win is the fifth consecutive for South Carolina, improving the team’s overall record to 6-4. The Gamecocks earned three MVP honors against Georgia after sweeping MVP honors in a 15-1 win against Sacred Heart Yesterday. Emily Bookwalter, Nicole Bourgeois and Victoria Middleton all had MVP rides for the Gamecocks to even the season series against the Bulldogs 1-1.

“We had a really good weekend,” Major said. “I feel like we rode really well today and yesterday. There were a few mistakes, which happens, but overall we performed really well. We’ll continue to keep improving and look to have a strong weekend next Saturday at Fresno State.”

The Hunter Seat team defeated Georgia 8-2 after sweeping equitation on the flat and getting three wins in equitation over fences. In equitation on the flat, Middleton earned her third MVP ride of the year with an 88-84 win against Haylie Jayne, the 2008 national reserve champion in equitation. Junior Carly Babcock registered an 85-83 win to continue her undefeated season, moving her record to 6-0-2 on the year. Alex Haskell defeated Nina Pola 82-70, Sarah Stephens recorded a 75-73 win and Megan Massaro moved to 7-1-1 on the year with a 78-75 victory.

In equitation over fences, Bourgeois earned her MVP ride with a 90-81.5 victory against Emma Lipman. The MVP honor was the first of the season for Bourgeois as she recorded the high score of the day. Massaro won her ride 88-77 against Kacy Jenkins and Courtney Reese rounded out the Hunter Seat scoring with an 85-80 victory.

“Victoria continues to excel on equitation on the flat,” Major said. “Nicole was her usual self over fences. She was level-headed and rode her particular horse well.”

The Western team dropped a close 6-4 decision to the Bulldogs after taking a 3-2 edge in horsemanship and falling 4-1 in reining. Bookwalter earned her first MVP ride of the season in horsemanship with a 76.5-71.5 victory against Katelyn VanAllen. Maggie Fortune rode to a 71.5-69 victory, and Hailey Thornton remains unbeaten in the spring with a 76-75.5 victory.

Emily Bookwalter had a beautiful ride,” Major said. “We’re very proud of her earning her first MVP ride.”

With the Carolina victory decided, the Bulldogs were able to take reining with four strong rides, including MVP rider Kate Stewart. Rebekah Roof earned the lone Gamecock victory after taking a 73.5-47 win against Hannah Dyer.

Carolina will travel to Fresno State next Saturday for a 9 a.m. (PT) competition against the Bulldogs.