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March 3, 2010

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina head equestrian coach Boo Major announced the Gamecocks’ 2010 early singing class on Wednesday. The Gamecocks have signed eight members of this year’s class to National Letters of Intent. This group of student-athletes signed with the Gamecocks during the Fall 2009 early signing period and will be eligible to compete beginning Fall 2010. All eight riders will have four years of eligibility.

The Western team signed three riders to National Letters of Intent. Joining the Gamecocks next season will be Samantha Nicholson (Decatur, GA/Lakeside High School), Jordan Brown (Selma, NC/North Johnston High School), and Katie Kopf (Edwardsburg, MI/Edwardsburg High School).

Joining the Hunter Team seat next season will be a group of five riders: Morgan Hale (Odessa, FL/Berkley Preparatory School), Jaime Steinhaus (Alpharetta, GA/Holy Innocents Episcopal School), Kelsey Hart (East Breenbush, NY/The Albany Academies), Rachel Roter (Ottsville, PA/Abington Friends), and Emma Johnson (Mahopac, NY/Somers High School).

Emma Johnson (Mahopac, NY/Somers High School/Hunter Seat)
Bio: Her major accomplishments include earning a USEF Talent Search Gold Medal, which signifies 20 class wins. She won the Talent Search at the Devon Horse Show in 2009. She also took first place at the National Professional Horsemen’s Association (PHA) finals. Emma was 5th at the 2008 New England Equitation Championships and is the only rider to have won the NEEC Horsemanship competition twice. She has finished in the top 20 in the USEF Medal Finals, ASPCA Maclay Regionals, and USEF Talent Search Finals. During her junior years, Emma trained with Val Renihan.

Major on Johnson:

“We have been watching Emma for quite a while now. She was on our radar last year but elected to take a year off after high school to finish her junior riding career. She is an excellent student in the classroom and has been extremely competitive in the New England area and nationally for the past few years.”

Rachel Roter (Ottsville, PA/Abington Friends/Hunter Seat)
Bio: A senior at Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, PA, Roter spent the past three seasons competing in equitation and jumpers at the Wellington Equestrian Festival (WEF), and other national “A” circuit venues like Devon, The Hampton Classic, and Garden State. She earned top ribbons in equitation on these venues and Championships in Modified Childrens Jumpers. She qualified for and competed in for three consecutive years the National Pessoa Hunt Seat Finals, the East Coast National USET Finals, and Regional Maclay Finals, advancing to National Maclay Finals 2009. She plans to major in History/International Studies at South Carolina, and chose the Gamecocks over Texas A&M and several smaller schools.

Major on Roter:
“Rachel has been very competitive in the equitation division. She has really blossomed these past few years and has many top placings at some of the best shows in the country. We think Rachel will be able to help us out on the flat and over fences. Rachel trained at Beacon Hill Stables with Stacia Madden.”

Kelsey Hart (East Breenbush, NY/The Albany Academies/Hunter Seat)
Bio: A senior at the Albany Academies in Albany, NY, Hart qualified in 2009 for the New England, ASPCA Maclay, USEF Hunt Seat Pessoa, USET, and WIHS equitation finals. She finished 6th Place at the Zone II ASCPA Maclay regionals out of 90 competitors and finished 2nd out of 250 riders at the New England Equitation Medal Finals. She has qualified for the George H. Morris Equitation Championship for the past two years and qualified to compete in this year’s Winter Equestrian Fetival.

Major on Hart:
“Kelsey comes to us from Albany, NY and has had a lot of success the past couple of years competing in the big equitation classes. She is a disciplined competitor and is having a very succesful season so far at The Winter Equestrian festival in Wellington Florida. She trains with Monte Kelly so we know that she is going to be a competitor for us.”

Jaime Steinhaus (Alpharetta, GA/Holy Innocents Episcopal School/Hunter Seat)

Major on Steinhaus:
“Jaime has had an extensive background in the hunters and has also done well in the equitation division as well. She is known for being a very soft and capable rider and has lots of miles catch riding which always helps at the college level. She trains with Geoff Teall so we know we are getting one of the best.”

Morgan Hale (Odessa, FL/Berkley Preparatory School/Hunter Seat)
Bio: A senior at Berkley Preparatory School, Hale trained with Don Stewart at Don Stewart Stables in Ocala, FL. 2009: Placed 3rd at ASPCA Maclay Finals, Champion in the 17 year old Equitation at Capital Challenge, Made top 15 at USEF/Pessoa Huntseat Medal Finals, Placed 8th in the Washington International Horse Show Equitation Jumper Phase and qualified for the USET East Finals. Placed 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th in the ASPCA Maclay, WIHS, USET and USEF Medal at Devon. Qualified and Competed at WIHS in the Junior Jumpers. Bronze Medal USET Wins. 2nd place in VHSA and EJ Haun Finals.

Major on Hale:
“Morgan comes to us with an extensive equitation background. She has been competitive in all the Big Eq classes for quite a while. She trains with Don Stewart and Bibby Farmer who run an excellent program in Ocala Florida. We are very fortunate to continue to sign riders from Don’s barn.”

Samantha Nicholson (Decatur, GA/Lakeside High School/Western)
Bio: A senior at Lakeside High School, Nicholson has competed at the National Appaloosa Horse Club’s World Championship Show since 2006. There, she has had five top-5 finishes and ten top-10 finishes, including being named 2008 Reserve Championship in Western Showmanship. Nicholson has also won multiple “Leading the Nation” Awards from the National Appaloosa Horse Club including three Year End Top-10 awards.

Major on Samantha:
“Samantha has attended several of our camps and we think she will be able to add to our horsemanship group. She has the perfect build for a rider and has had lots of horsemanship experience. Sam trains with Rob and Mary Meneely who have extensive experience training youth in horsemanship.”

Jordan Brown (Selma, NC/North Johnston High School/Western)
Bio: A senior at North Johnston High School in Kenly, NC, Brown has lettered in four different sports (tennis, softball, track, and basketball) during her high school career. In 2009, she was won the USEF Youth Champion (14-18 yrs.)… 2008 USEF Youth 4th Place… 2007 USEF Reserve Champion (14-18 yrs.)… 2005 USEF Youth Champion (13 & under)… 2005 NRHA Word Champion (13 & under)… 2004 NRHA Reserve World Champion (13 & under)… 2003 NRHA Reserve World Champion (13 & under). Signed with South Carolina after also considering Auburn, Georgia, and St. Andrews.

Major on Brown:
“Jordan is one of the top reiners in the country. We are so excited to have someone from our neighboring state of North Carolina come to USC. Jordan is known as a rider that can get the best out of anything and we are sure she will get it done when she comes here and competes.”

Katie Kopf (Edwardsburg, MI/Edwardsburg High School/Western)

Bio: A senior at Edwardsburg High School in Eedwardsburg, MI, Kopf lettered in equestrian all four years of high school. In 2007, she won 3rd Place at AQHA Youth World Show with superior honors in Horsemanship, Showmanship, and Equitation. She has been a consistent top-10 finisher at All-American Quarter Horse Congress. She comes to South Carolina ranked 7th in her class with a GPA of 3.98.

Major on Kopf:
“Katie will be a great addition to our horsemanship line up. She is always in the ribbons at the major Quarter Horse shows and has lots of horsemanship miles that will really benefit us. Katie rides with Diane Eppers and we think she has the presence in the show pen to help us out immediately.”