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Jan. 30, 2011

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Coach Major

WACO, TX – The sixth-ranked South Carolina equestrian team turned a 12-6 win over No. 8 Baylor into a birthday present for head coach Boo Major on Sunday at the Willis Family Equestrian Center.

“This was a great win for us today,” Major said. “For us to come to Baylor and get a win at their place, it just says a lot about our team. Other than spending my birthday with my son, Mac, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it. Baylor lost three of its competitions by three points or less, so they could very well be a nine-win team right now. This was a big win for us today over a really good team.

With the win on Sunday, the Gamecocks improved to 3-5, while Baylor falls to 6-5. Sunday’s win also marked South Carolina’s first road win of the 2010-2011 season and first regular season road win since March 20, 2010, when the Gamecocks won 11-8 at Delaware State.

“It’s been tough for us on the road so far this season,” Major said. “But our girls have been riding well all season long, both at home and on the road, and finally it paid off for them today. We have four more competitions away from Blythewood, and I feel like if we continue to ride mistake-free and continue to get better, we have the chance to make this a great spring semester.”

Sunday’s overall win also marked the second consecutive win for the Gamecocks’ Western Squad, as it defeated Baylor’s Western team 5-3.

In Reining, Baylor won three of five points. Freshman Melia Blakely improved to 4-2-1 in Reining as she defeated her opponent 71-70.5 to score the only Gamecock point of the event. Senior captain Chloe Gray rode her Baylor opponent to a tie.

The Gamecocks cruised to a 4-0 win over Baylor in Horsemanship. Junior Maggie Fortune picked up her first MVP of the season as she won her ride on Sunday. Freshman Katie Kopf and junior Taylor Singmaster also picked up points for South Carolina, and Johnna Letchworth improved her record to 5-1-1 with a 73-71.5 win over Baylor’s Meghan Murphy. Senior Hailey Thornton rode her opponent to a 72.5-72.5 tie, securing the Horsemanship shutout.

“Our Horsemanship girls have looked solid all season long,” Major said. “Hailey, Maggie, and Taylor all rode well as they usually do, and Johnna and Katie continue to prove that they can ride against anybody out there. I’m really proud of them and we feel great about our Horsemanship team going forward.”

The Hunt Seat team also picked up a win on Sunday, as the Gamecocks beat Baylor’s Hunt Seat team 7-3.

The Hunt Seat team began Sunday’s competition picking up a 3-2 decision over Baylor in Equitation Over Fences. Junior Paige Dekko and freshman Morgan Hale both won their rides, and junior Carolyn Curcio turned in an MVP performance, as she cruised to an 81-71 win. Curcio is now 6-2 in Equitation Over Fences this season, and both of Hale’s victories have come on the road.

The Gamecocks held a 7-5 lead heading into the final event of Sunday’s competition, Equitation on the Flat. The suspsense did not last long however, as Colvin Hedgepeth, Curcio, Emma Johnson, and Kimberly McCormack won their rides to secure the win for the Gamecocks. McCormack was named MVP for her 88-80 win, her fifth MVP of the season and eighth of her career. Hedgepeth is now 5-3 this season in Equitation, and Johnson improved to 3-1 in Equitation.

The Gamecocks return to action next Saturday, Feb. 5 at 1 p.m. when the Gamecocks host No. 3 Georgia at One Wood Farm in Blythewood. The Gamecocks will host their annual Equi-Fest on Saturday, where there will be special activities and games for children in attendance. Admission is free to all Gamecock equestrian competitions, and more information about Saturday’s Equi-Fest will be announced this week.