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April 18, 2009

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WACO, Texas – The South Carolina equestrian team placed sixth overall with 27 points at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships as the Hunter Seat team finished third and the Western team finished sixth. Georgia won its second consecutive national championship as action concluded Saturday at the Heart of Texas Fair and Rodeo Complex in Waco.

The Hunter Seat team lost to Georgia in the semifinal before defeating host team Baylor in the third place match to take bronze medal honors. Against the Bulldogs, the competition to advance to the championship match was strong as the teams combined for three ties before Georgia claimed a slight 3-2 lead. South Carolina won equitation on the flat 2-1 after Victoria Middleton (137-131) and Carly Babcock (133-120) posted wins and Megan Massaro earned a draw after she and Emma Lipman both scored 116. Carolina did not win a ride in equitation over fences, but Nicole Bourgeois (170) and Massaro (162) both registered draws to keep the score at a one-point margin.

In the third place match, Carolina defeated Baylor by an overpowering 6-2 with a 4-0 sweep in equitation over fences after tying 2-2 in equitation on the flat. Over fences, Eleanor Kunsman, Courtney Reese, Bourgeois and Massaro all recorded wins before the Gamecocks solidified the victory with win in equitation on the flat by Middleton and Massaro. Middleton and Massaro were the only two Gamecocks to go undefeated throughout the team championships as Middleton, a sophomore, went 3-0 and Massaro, a junior, went 5-0-1 in team competition at Waco this week. Middleton also advanced to the final of the individual bracket as the No. 5 seed, winning two rounds before falling in the final.

The Western team finished sixth for the second consecutive year after defeating Baylor in the consolation bracket before falling to Kansas State in the fifth place match. Carolina and Baylor ended in a 4-4 draw after the Gamecocks swept reining and the Bears swept horsemanship, creating a raw score tiebreaker scenario that the Gamecocks won 1087.5-1072. In that round, the reining team of Amy Biffle, Chloe Gray, Rebekah Roof and Lydia Roof led Carolina with two wins decided by 14.5 points each, one by six points and the other by one point.

With the win, the Western team advanced to the fifth place show against Kansas State, but the Wildcats proved to be too much in taking a 6-1 decision that solidified Carolina for sixth place. Emily Bookwalter had the lone win for Carolina against Kansas State as she claimed a 140-126 win in horsemanship. Rebekah Roof rode to a draw in reining with 137.5 points.

Georgia’s overall national title keeps varsity equestrian supremacy in the SEC as the conference has been home to every national champion since the VENC format began in 2003. The Bulldogs have won four titles (2003, 2004, 2008 and 2009), South Carolina won titles in 2005 and 2007, and Auburn won its lone title in 2006.

1. Georgia (51 pts)
2. Texas A&M (37.5 pts)
3. Oklahoma State (31 pts)
T4. TCU (28 pts)
T4. Auburn (28 pts)
6. South Carolina (27 pts)
7. Baylor (16.5 pts)
8. Kansas State (16 pts)
T9. Fresno State (1.5 pts)
T9. New Mexico State (1.5 pts)