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Oct. 23, 2009

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BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – The second-ranked South Carolina equestrian team dropped its first SEC match of the season, a 12-8 decision to No. 3 Georgia on Friday. The Gamecocks fall to 1-2 on the season while the Bulldogs improve to 4-1.

“We got beat by a solid team today, ” said head coach Boo Major. “I think Georgia came in a little more prepared and a little more polished than we did, and they did an excellent job with our horses. On our end though, we definitely made some mistakes that could have been avoided, and I’d like to have a few of our rides back, but overall, give Georgia a lot of credit because they rode extremely well today.”

The Gamecocks’ Hunter Seat team lost 7-3, and is now 2-1 on the season. In equitation on the flat, the Gamecocks posted victories from senior Megan Massaro and freshman Kimberly McCormack, but the Bulldogs won the event 3-2. Georgia’s Carly Anthony posted a score of 84 for the Bulldogs and was named MVP of the event.

In equitation over fences, South Carolina’s only victory came from senior Eleanor Kunsman, who was named MVP of the event for her 86-65 win over Georgia’s Grace Rogers.

After the first two events, South Carolina and Georgia were tied 5-5, but the Bulldogs pulled away in equitation over fences, scoring a 4-1 victory.

“We didn’t have a great ride early on in the jumping event and I think that may have set the tone for the rest of the girls unfortunately,” Major said. “Our other riders all put in good trips in the jumping and I think it was a matter of the judge’s preference in several of the rides, but that doesn’t take anything away from Georgia because they had some great rides themselves.”

In the Western events, the Gamecocks went 1-1 on the day, winning 3-2 in horsemanship and losing 3-2 in reining. Since South Carolina and Georgia both posted five victories, the overall victory went to the Bulldogs in the tiebreaker, which was determined by the teams’ total points after subtracting the lowest score from each team. Georgia won the tiebreaker 622.5 to 618.

In horsemanship, senior captain Emily Bookwalter posted a 72.5-70 victory over Georgia’s Ali Eidson and was named MVP of the event. Also picking up wins in the event were junior Hailey Thornton and sophomore Maggie Fortune.

“I was really pleased with our horsemanship girls, we’ve really been working hard on improving them and I think it showed today how much better they are,” Major said. “The girls have looked really good in practice lately so hopefully they’re on track and keep winning from here on out.”

In reining, the Gamecocks’ lone victories came from the freshmen duo of Amanda Pope and Audrey Jewell. Pope defeated Georgia’s Dana Wilson 69-66 while Jewell defeated the Bulldogs’ Kelly Truesdale. Georgia’s Sarah Locker was named MVP of the event for her 72.5-69 victory over South Carolina sophomore Annie McDonald.

The Gamecocks have next weekend off, but return to action in two weekends for a pair of competitions. On Friday, November 6, the Gamecocks host Tennessee-Martin at 2 p.m. in Blythewood, followed by a 10 a.m. competition on Saturday, November 6 against Fresno State.