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April 18, 2010

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WACO, Texas – The University of South Carolina equestrian team claimed 3rd place overall at the 2010 Varsity Equestrian National Championships on Saturday at the Heart O’ Texas Fair Coliseum in Waco.

“I’m very proud of our team for the way they rode this weekend,” head coach Boo Major said. “To send our eight seniors out with a third place finish is not exactly what we had hoped for, but our girls stuck together and had some great rides.”

The Gamecocks finished third-place overall behind five-time champion Georgia and runner-up Auburn.

“It’s really a good thing that Georgia, Auburn, and we were the top three teams this year, because it shows that we really do have the best riders in the country,” Major said. “Between the three of us, we beat some great schools this weekend and I want to congratulate Georgia and Auburn for their great seasons.”

Both South Carolina’s Hunter Seat and Western teams finished in third-place in their respective brackets.

A day after falling 6-2 to Auburn in the Hunter Seat semifinals, the Gamecocks responded by sweeping both events and cruising past Texas A&M 8-0 to claim third-place.

“Winning 8-0 is the way this team deserved to go out this season,” head coach Boo Major said. “I feel like we rode well enough yesterday to be competing in the championships today, and I know our girls were disappointed in last night’s loss, but to rebound in such a big way against a great Texas A&M team says a lot about this team’s character.”

In Equitation On the Flat, South Carolina swept the event 4-0, with victories coming from seniors Carly Babcock, Alex Haskell, Megan Massaro, and freshman Kimberly McCormack.

In Equitation Over Fences, the Gamecocks completed the sweep, as Massaro and McCormack teamed up with senior Eleanor Kunsman and freshman Alex Arute to win the event 4-0. Massaro won five of her six rides for the Gamecocks over the weekend.

The Western team won its third-place competition as well, defeating Georgia by the narrowest of margins in a tiebreaker.

Both teams were tied 4-4 at the end of the competition, and by Varsity Equestrian rules, a raw score tiebreaker is used to determine the winner. After each teams’ raw scoes are added up, scorekeepers drop each team’s lowest score. From there, the team with the higer raw score total is declared the winner. South Carolina’s raw scored totalled 976, two points better than Georgia’s 974.

“Today’s win, and this entire weekend’s performance by our Western girls is a testiment to their dedication,” head coach Boo Major said. “Our Western coach Ruth Sorrel really got these girls prepared to come here this weekend, and for them to be a ten-seed and go on to finish in 3rd Place shows that their preparation paid off.”

South Carolina tied Georgia 2-2 in Horsemanship, with the Gamecocks’ points coming from senior Amy Biffle and junior Hailey Thornton.

In Reining, the Gamecocks tied the Bulldogs 2-2 with victories by junior Chloe Gray and freshman Annie McDonald. Gray completed the weekend winning all four of her rides.