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April 1, 2009

Story by Kim Osborne, South Carolina Media Relations

Carly Babcock, a South Carolina equestrian rider, is heading to the Varsity Equestrian National Championships (VENC) in two weeks as the No. 3 national seed, but whether she rides in team competition is still up in the air.

Babcock, a junior, is one of five girls going to Waco, Texas as an equitation on the flat rider, yet only four will ride in the competition. Having gone to nationals as an alternate her freshmen year gives her a slight advantage in preparing for the biggest collegiate meet. “I know what to expect going into it this year if I do ride,” said Babcock. “I’m nervous but I want a chance to prove myself.”

Equestrian has taught her several things over the past four seasons including competing well with others. Before competing in college, it was all about the individual win. “Now,” Babcock said, “it’s all about the greater good. Other people are relying on you to win and when you do, they give you that extra pat on the back.”

Babcock ended the regular season undefeated, and the USC team has won seven consecutive meets, bringing their record to 8-4. “It just kind of happened; the wins kept coming,” Babcock said. “Everyone came back from winter break with a go get’em attitude.”

With the solid 17-2 victory against Delaware State on March 28, the regular season is over and all focus is solely on SEC’s and nationals. After having won the Hunter Seat national championship three consecutive years (2005-2007), the team didn’t advance to the championship round in 2008, something Babcock said, “we let happen and now we have something to prove.”

Currently ranked number four as a team, Carolina is proving that it has national champion potential. This season, they defeated then-No. 1 Georgia (12-8) and then-No. 1 Auburn (10-8) at Auburn. “The team highlight this season was beating Auburn,” Babcock said. “To go to their house and beat them the way that we did was unbelievable.”

The undefeated equitation on the flat rider with an 8-0-2 record this year has a pre-ride ritual. “Every single time, I have to walk off by myself, crack my fingers and my neck both ways,” said Babcock. “(It’s about) getting my game face on and just doing it.”

Well that certainly has worked out for Babcock. Heading towards Waco, not even knowing if she will ride in team competition, Babcock still remains undefeated and will also look to earn her first individual national championship.