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Feb. 25, 2011

Coach Major

FRESNO, Calif. – No. 6 South Carolina is in Fresno, Calif. this weekend to compete in the fifth annual Best of the West Tournament, hosted by Fresno State at the Student Horse Center. This year’s field includes the Gamecocks, No. 5 TCU, No. 8 Baylor, and No. 9 Fresno State, the tournament host.

“We’re looking forward to competing against some great teams this weekend,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “This is our first time competing in this tournament, so our girls are excited about this opportunity.”

The Gamecocks enter the Best of the West Tournament with a 4-6 record, coming off a 10-9 loss at No. 2 Auburn on Feb. 19.

South Carolina will compete against the fifth-ranked Horned Frogs at 12 p.m. (Eastern). Sunday, the Gamecocks will ride against Baylor and Fresno State. The Bulldogs have won the tournament four years in a row.

“Fresno State has a bit of an advantage, in the fact that they’ll be at home, but also because they’ve won it every single year,” Major said. “For them to win that tournament all four years, that says a lot about their program. They’ve certainly got a good team, but Baylor and TCU know how to win as well, so I think this will be the first year Fresno really gets challenged.”

Instead of the usual five head-to-head rides, each event will consist of three head-to-rides.

“With fewer opportunities for us to score points, it’s going to be important for our girls to ride mistake-free,” Major said. “We’ve looked good in practice this week, so hopefully that carries over into the weekend.”

Not only will the Gamecocks be competing against some tough opponents this weekend, South Carolina will also be dealing with some unfriendly weather. Fresno is expecting snow this weekend, marking the first time the area has gotten snow in 35 years in the month of February.

“The weather could certainly be an issue,” Major said. “Especially with us riding against TCU on Saturday, the weather could really play a factor. But if it’s a factor for us, it’ll also be a factor for them as well.”

Saturday’s lineup vs. TCU

Equitation on the Flat
Colvin Hedgepeth (5-5 record in Equitation)
Kelsey Hart (1-1 record in Equitation)
Kimberly McCormack (five MVP awards)

Equitation Over Fences
Kimberly McCormack
Alex Arute (5-4 record in Equitation Over Fences; two-match winning streak)
Jeanette Collins (won in exhibition at Auburn on Feb. 19)

Hailey Thornton (5-3-1 record in Horsemanship)
Johnna Letchworth (7-1-1 record in Horsemanship with two MVP’s)
Maggie Fortune (5-3 record in Horsemanship; three-match winning streak)

Chloe Gray (4-3-2 record in Reining with three MVP’s)
Melia Blakely (6-2-1 record in Reining)
Audrey Jewell (3-3 record in Reining)

Live Scoring: South Carolina will provide Live Scoring for all three of South Carolina’s competitions this weekend. CLICK HERE for the link to Saturday’s Live Scoring page.