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April 2, 2009

BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – The South Carolina equestrian team is headed to Athens, Ga., this weekend to compete as the No. 3 seed at the seventh annual Southern Equestrian Championships held at the Animal Science Complex. The Gamecocks will compete against host and No. 2 seed Georgia Friday at 2 p.m. with the winner scheduled to take on top-seeded Auburn Saturday at 10 a.m.

For the first time, all three teams in the SEC split home-and-home series’ with each other to go 2-2 in conference action. Carolina, winners of seven consecutive meets and undefeated in the spring season, earned the third seed by tiebreaker to face three-time defending S.E.C. champion Georgia. The Bulldogs defeated the Gamecocks 13-7 in Athens in November, but Carolina won the most recent meet between the teams 12-8 at Blythewood in February.

The three-team S.E.C. has become the premier group of teams in the nation as one of the three has gone on to win the national championship each of the last six seasons. South Carolina won the title in 2007 and 2005 while Georgia, the defending national champion, took top honors in 2003, 2004 and 2008. Auburn won the national championship in 2006.

Georgia has dominated the Southern Equestrian Championships since the championship began in 2003. The Bulldogs have won five of six S.E.C. titles and have taken four straight; Auburn took the team title in 2004 as the other lone winner. South Carolina finished as runner-up three of the last four years, including last year when Georgia and Carolina tied in the championship round before the Bulldogs took the title on a raw score tiebreaker by only 1.5 points.

Competing for South Carolina in the Hunter Seat discipline this weekend will be Carly Babcock, Nicole Bourgeois, Alex Haskell, Colvin Hedgepeth, Eleanor Kunsman, Megan Massaro, Victoria Middleton, Courtney Reese and Sarah Stephens. Competing in Western will be Amy Biffle, Emily Bookwalter, Paige Dekko, Maggie Fortune, Chloe Gray, Katie Grossnickle, Annie Laurie McDonald, Lydia Roof, Rebekah Roof and Hailey Thornton.

History of the Southern Equestrian Championships
2003: 1) Georgia, 2) Auburn, 3) South Carolina
2004: 1) Auburn, 2) Georgia, 3) South Carolina
2005: 1) Georgia, 2) South Carolina, 3) Auburn
2006: 1) Georgia, 2) South Carolina, 3) Auburn
2007: 1) Georgia, 2) Auburn, 3) South Carolina
2008: 1) Georgia, 2) South Carolina, 3) Auburn