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April 17, 2009

WACO, Texas – The South Carolina Hunter Seat team used a blowout win, 6-1, to advance to the national semifinals early Friday while the Western team was edged 5-3 in the second round as the Gamecock equestrian team continued action at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships held at the Heart of Texas Fair and Rodeo Complex at Baylor University.

The third-ranked Hunter Seat tea breezed past No. 6 Oklahoma State in the second round by claiming a 6-1 win. Carolina swept equitation over fences, 4-0, Friday morning after taking a 2-1 win in equitation on the flat late Thursday. With the win, the Gamecocks advanced to the semifinal round against No. 2 Georgia that will conclude late Friday night. In equitation over fences, all four Gamecocks registered wins with Eleanor Kunsman registering the highest score of the show in a 168-133 win. Nicole Bourgeois took the biggest margin of victory in a 152-100 win. Rachel Koggan had a 150-139 win and Megan Massaro finished the sweep with a 136-129 win.

In equitation on the flat, Massaro had the highest score in a 144-141 win, and Victoria Middleton gave Carolina its sixth point with a 118-115 victory. Sarah Stephens registered a draw at 127.

“I feel like we all rode really well,” Massaro said. “Attitudes were god and I’m really excited and confident about facing Georgia in the next round.”

The Gamecock Western team took a 3-1 deficit into horsemanship after Chloe Gray earned Carolina’s lone victory in reining, a 135-133.5 victory over TCU’s Chloe Baker. Carolina was able to force a 2-2 draw in horsemanship with wins from Emily Bookwalter (142-140.5) and Maggie Fortune (144-127.5), but the Western team ultimately fell to TCU 5-3, moving them to the consolation bracket to face Baylor, a 5-3 loser to Georgia in the second round. The Gamecocks and Bears will finish late Friday night.

“I knew going into today it would be close with TCU, but the horsemanship went out and laid everything on the line,” Bookwalter said of the second round matchup. “I don’t think the score reflected how well we rode today.”

Competition concludes Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. with the remaining individual bracket rides and the first, third and fifth place shows in team Hunter Seat and Western. Should Carolina advance past Georgia Friday, they will compete in the Hunter Seat national championship at 3:30 p.m. The Gamecocks will also begin the search for individual championships as five Gamecocks earned bids in their respective brackets – three in the eight-person equitation on the flat field, one in equitation over fences and one in horsemanship.