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March 19, 2011

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Coach Major
Chloe Gray, Hailey Thornton

BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. – No. 6 South Carolina defeated No. 10 New Mexico State, 10-6, on Saturday at One Wood Farm in Blythewood. The Gamecocks close out the regular season with a record of 5-8, while the Aggies fall to 4-7.

“It was great for us to not only win on Senior Day, but to also end our regular season and hopefully build some momentum heading into the post-season next week,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “We’ve ridden well at home all season long, and hopefully we can carry that over when we face Georgia on Friday.”

Prior to Saturday’s competition, the Gamecocks honored seniors Alex Foster, Abbey Rohde, Hailey Thornton, and Chloe Gray.

“We always like sending our seniors out with a win,” Major said. “It was great having our athletes’ families out here today, and it was a terrific atmosphere and a very well-run show.”

The Gamecocks tied New Mexico State, 4-4 in Hunt Seat head-to-head action, but won the raw score tie-breaker, 743-737.

In Equitation on the Flat, freshmen Emma Johnson and Kelsey Hart both won their rides for the Gamecocks. Johnson picked up a 73-67 win over Brianna Raab, while Hart defeated Stephanie Gershon, 74-71. Sophomore Logan Holler tied New Mexico State’s Sydney Morse, 61-61.

In Equitation Over Fences, junior riders Carolyn Curcio and Paige Dekko both won their rides. Dekko scored a Gamecock event-high 82 to defeat Laura Bostwick, and Curcio’s 81 was one-point better than Gershon. Sophomore Kimberly McCormack tied the Aggies’ Emily McConnel, 78-78.

On the Western side, the Gamecocks cruised to an easy 6-2 win, with both the Horsemanship and Reining teams winning 3-1. South Carolina also swept both Western MVP’s.

In Horsemanship, junior Maggie Fortune led the way, picking up her seventh win of the season and third MVP. Fortune’s seven wins matches her season best from a year ago, and her three MVP’s this season also ties her season-high mark, set during the 2009-2010 year.

Redshirt freshman Johnna Letchworth improved to 11-1-1 on the season with a 73-72 win over Jessica Woolsey. Letchworth currently leads all Horsemanship riders in the country with her 11 wins. Freshman Katie Kopf continued her winning ways on Saturday, picking up her fourth win of the season with a 71-70 decision over New Mexico State’s Megan Gould.

The Gamecocks led the competition 7-5 heading into Reining. South Carolina pulled away from the Aggies with wins by senior captain Chloe Gray, sophomores Amanda Pope and Melissa Mull.

Gray earned her seventh win of the season and team-high sixth MVP with a 71-66.5 win over Stefanie Storie. Pope picked up her second straight home win with a 69.5-69 decision over Katie Goodwin. Mull won her first point of the season on Saturday, as the Virginia native defeated Tara Wilson 69-68.5.

“Another great day for our Western girls. They just continue to amaze us,” Major said. “To think that Chloe has seven wins and six MVP’s is almost unthinkable to tell you the truth. But she’s a rare bird and when she rides at her best, there probably isn’t a rider at the college level that could beat her. And we’re also excited for Missy and Amanda winning their points. An all-around solid day for our Western team.”

With the regular season now in the books, the Gamecocks turn their attention to next weekend’s Southern Equestrian Championships. South Carolina is hosting the ninth annual competition this year, being held at One Wood Farm in Blythewood. South Carolina will face Georgia at 2 p.m. on Friday, with the winner competing against Auburn on Saturday at 10 a.m. Admission to both competitions is free.