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Nov. 19, 2009

Coach Major

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The fourth-ranked South Carolina equestrian team arrived in Las Cruces, N.M. today as the Gamecocks get set to compete against No. 9 New Mexico State and No. 6 Baylor this weekend at the New Mexico State Equestrian Center.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to ride against two top-notch teams this weekend,” head coach Boo Major said. “New Mexico State and Baylor have a great group of riders across their entire roster, and it’s going to be great to see three ranked teams face each other over the next couple of days.”

The Gamecocks are currently 3-2 after defeating Tennessee Martin 17-3 on Nov. 6 and Fresno State 14-5 on Nov. 7. South Carolina won its only other road competition of the season, a 12-8 victory over Auburn on Oct. 2.

South Carolina’s Hunter Seat team is 4-1 on the season following its 7-3 victory over Fresno State on Nov. 7. The Western Team is 2-3 on the season, highlighted by a 5-0 sweep over Fresno State in Horsemanship. The 5-0 victory in Horsemanship was the first time ever South Carolina swept the event, and the Gamecocks are hoping the two-match winning streak for the Western Team continues.

“Those girls have been working so hard all season, it felt great to see it pay off for them two weeks ago against two very good opponents,” Major said. “But we’re riding against two teams that are even better this coming weekend, so I know they are excited.”

Against No. 9 New Mexico State (3-1 record)

In Equitation Over Fences, the Gamecocks will turn to a pair of freshmen and seniors to compete against the Aggies. Seniors Eleanor Kunsman and Nicole Bourgeois will team up with freshmen Alex Arute and Tilden Brighton for South Carolina. In her first collegiate competition against Fresno State on Nov. 7, Arute was named MVP in Equitation Over Fences after she scored an 87-74 victory.

In Equitation on the Flat, senior Carly Babcock, coming off an MVP performance against Fresno State will lead the Gamecocks as they look to improve to 4-2 on the season in the Flat. Also riding for South Carolina will be seniors Alex Haskell and Megan Massaro, and freshman Kimberly McCormack.

In Horsemanship, senior Emily Bookwalter will lead junior Hailey Thornton and sophomores Maggie Fortune and Taylor Singmaster as the Gamecocks look to continue their two-match winning streak in the event.

Coming off a tie in Reining against Fresno State on Nov. 7, the Gamecocks will send juniors Lydia Roof and Chloe Gray, sophomore Annie McDonald, and freshman Amanda Pope to compete against New Mexico State. Pope won MVP of the event against Tennessee-Martin on Nov. 6 and is currently the only member of the Reining team to win the award this season.

Against No. 6 Baylor (2-3 record)

In Equitation on the Flat, Carly Babcock, Alex Haskell, and Megan Massaro will pull double-duty for the Gamecocks as they will also ride against the Bears. Sara Green will make her collegiate debut, replacing Kimberly McCormack who will serve as an alternate against Baylor.

In Equitation Over Fences, Eleanor Kunsman and Kimberly McCormack will be the only Gamecocks to compete twice this weekend in the event. They will be joined by Green and senior Megan Massaro, who is 3-1 this season in the jumping event.

In Horsemanship, Emily Bookwalter, Hailey Thornton, and Maggie Fortune will remain in the lineup for South Carolina, and they will be joined by senior Amy Biffle, who is coming off an MVP performance against Fresno State on Nov. 7.

In Reining, the Gamecocks will use the lineup against New Mexico State as Lydia Roof, Chloe Gray, Annie McDonald, and freshman Amanda Pope will pull double-duty for South Carolina.