April 15, 2009
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – The South Carolina equestrian team heads to the campus of Baylor University in Waco, Texas this week in search of its third national championship as the team competes at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships beginning Thursday. The VENC’s is the equivalent of an NCAA Tournament and will be held April 16-18 at the Heart of Fair Texas Complex.
South Carolina won the overall national championship at the VENC’s in 2005 and 2007; the Hunter Seat team won three consecutive titles from 2005-07. Last season, Gamecock Kristen Terebesi became the first person to sweep individual national championship honors after she won the equitation over fences and equitation on the flat titles for Carolina.
The South Carolina Hunter Seat team (9-4) earned a first round bye after being awarded the No. 3 seed in the 12-team field. The team will meet the winner of the No. 6 Oklahoma State-No.11 SMU competition. Carolina will complete half of the second round Thursday night and conclude Friday morning before advancing in the bracket.
The Western team (6-7) earned a No. 7 ranking and will compete against No. 10 South Dakota State in first round competition. The teams will face off Thursday in horsemanship at 9 a.m. and in reining at 11 a.m. The winner will advance to compete against No. 2 TCU in the second round, beginning with reining at 5:30 p.m. the same day with round two horsemanship starting Friday at 11 a.m.
South Carolina also qualified five individuals in the individual championship brackets. Each of the four events – equitation on the fences, equitation on the flat, horsemanship and reining – ranked the top eight riders nationally at the conclusion of the season to set up brackets. Junior Megan Massaro earned the top seed in equitation on the flat, junior Carly Babcock earned the No. 3 seed in the event and sophomore Victoria Middleton earned the No. 5 seed, giving the Gamecocks three of the eight riders. In equitation over fences, junior Nicole Bourgeois earned the No. 6 seed, and in horsemanship senior Katie Grossnickle earned the No. 4 seed.
Since the VENC format began in 2003, only three teams have won the national championship, and all three teams have come from the SEC. South Carolina won two titles in 2005 and 2007. Reigning champion Georgia has won three titles (2003, 2004, 2008) and Auburn won the other title in 2006.
Past National Champions
2005: South Carolina
2007: South Carolina
Western Team Bracket
Horsemanship begins at 9 a.m., Reining begins at 11 a.m.
(8) Auburn vs. (8) New Mexico State
(5) Kansas State vs. (12) Tennessee-Martin
(6) Baylor vs. (11) Fresno State
(7) South Carolina vs. (10) South Dakota State
Second round – Thursday afternoon and Friday morning competition
(1) Texas A&M – will face winner (8) Auburn vs. (8) New Mexico State
(4) Oklahoma State will face winner (5) Kansas State vs. (12) Tennessee-Martin
(3) Georgia will face winner (6) Baylor vs. (11) Fresno State
(2) TCU will face winner (7) South Carolina vs. (10) South Dakota State
Hunter Seat Team Bracket
Fences begins at 9 a.m., Flat begins at 11:30 a.m.
(8) Kansas State vs. (9) Tennessee-Martin
(5) Texas A&M vs. (12) Delaware State
(6) Oklahoma State vs. (11) SMU
(7) Fresno State vs. (10) TCU
Second round – Thursday morning and Friday afternoon competition
(1) Auburn vs. winner (8) Kansas State vs. (9) Tennessee-Martin
(4) Baylor vs. (5) Texas A&M vs. (12) Delaware State
(3) South Carolina vs. (6) Oklahoma State vs. (11) SMU
(2) Georgia vs. (7) Fresno State vs. (10) TCU
Competition continues all day Friday and Saturday. Individual competition begins Friday afternoon.