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Feb. 18, 2011

Coach Major

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The sixth-ranked Gamecock equestrian team travels to Auburn, Ala. to compete against No. 2 Auburn on Saturday. The competition begins at 10 a.m. Central Time at the Auburn University Horse Center.

The Gamecocks 4-5 have won two competitions in a row, while the Tigers are 8-3 and coming off a road loss at Georgia.

“Auburn is consistently one of the better teams around,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “On both the hunt seat and western teams, they may have some of the best riders around. We’re going to have to ride mistake-free on Saturday, and I think we’ve practiced well since beating Georgia.”

The Gamecocks’ Western team has been on a roll as of late, most recently a 9-0 shutout against Georgia on Feb. 5.

“Our Western riders have actually been on-point just about all season,” Major said. “Coach Ruth Sorrel has done a great job with them, and our seniors Chloe Gray and Hailey Thornton have been leading the way. We’re fortunate to have a great young group of Western riders too, and I believe those girls have certainly found their stride.”

Thornton will lead the Horsemanship team this weekend. She will be joined in the lineup by junior Maggie Fortune, sophomore Kelsey Stangebye, redshirt freshman Johnna Letchworth, and freshman Katie Kopf.

In Reining, Gray, the Western team captain, will headline the Gamecock lineup. Joining her will be junior Annie McDonald, sophomores Amanda Pope and Audrey Jewell, and freshman Melia Blakely.

On the Hunt Seat side, Coach Major and assistant Hunt Seat coach Carol Gwin are making some changes from their usual lineups.

“We’ve decided to make a switch here and there, just hoping that a little change might get our Hunt Seat girls jump-started,” Major said. “They haven’t looked bad by any means, but a mistake here and there certainly cost us against Georgia, so we’ll give a few other girls a chance this weekend.”

In Equitation Over Fences, Paige Dekko, Kimberly McCormack, Hunt Seat captain Alex Arute, Morgan Hale, and Kelsey Hart will compete for the Gamecocks.

In Equitation on the Flat, McCormack, Dekko, and Hart will pull double-duty for the Gamecocks and remain in the lineup. Junior Colvin Hedgepeth and redshirt junior Victoria Middleton will also compete against the Tigers.