March 31, 2009
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – The Varsity Equestrian Selection Committee released both team and individual seeds for the 2009 Varsity Equestrian National Championships (VENC), and the University of South Carolina was awarded with both teams and five individuals earning the right to compete for national championships.
The South Carolina Hunter Seat team (9-3) earned a first round bye after being awarded the No. 3 seed in the 12-team field. The team has won seven consecutive matches and will meet the winner of the No. 6 Oklahoma State-No.11 SMU competition. The Western team (6-6) earned a No. 7 ranking and will compete against No. 10 South Dakota State in first round competition.
In addition to the team brackets, individual national champions will also be awarded in each of the four events: equitation on the flat, equitation over fences, horsemanship and reining. The top eight riders nationally were seeded according to win-loss record, MVP rides, average score and average margin of victory.
South Carolina qualified three riders in equitation on the flat – almost half the invited field of eight – in top-seeded Megan Massaro, No. 3 seed Carly Babcock and No. 5 seed Victoria Middleton. Massaro, a junior, finished the season 9-1-1 with four MVP rides. Babcock rode to an undefeated record of 8-0-2 with two MVP rides in a breakout junior season. Middleton, a sophomore, went 8-1-1 on the year with two MVP rides.
Junior Nicole Bourgeois earned the No. 6 seed in equitation over fences after finishing the year with a 7-3 record and two MVP rides. Massaro was selected as the first alternate in the event if one of the eight seeds does not compete. Massaro went 7-3 with five MVP rides in equitation over fences. Senior Katie Grossnickle is the final individual qualifier with a No. 4 seed in horsemanship after posting a 9-2-1 record with four MVP rides.
The Varsity Equestrian National Championships will be held April 16-18 at Baylor’s Heart of Fair Texas Complex in Waco, Texas. South Carolina won the national championship in 2007 and 2005 and won three consecutive Hunter Seat national championships from 2005-07. Gamecock Kristen Terebesi swept Hunter Seat individual national championship honors as a senior in 2008 after winning the inaugural VENC individual titles in equitation on the flat and equitation over fences.
Past National Champions
2005: South Carolina
2007: South Carolina