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Feb. 10, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 7 South Carolina returns to action this weekend, as the Gamecocks travel to Martin, Tenn. to face the tenth-ranked Skyhawks at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Ned McWherter Agricultural Complex.

“We’re looking forward to competing against Coach Cunningham and her team,” head coach Boo Major said. “Their last three losses have all been very close, including a 10-10 tiebreaker against Kansas State a few weeks ago, so we know they’re going to give us a tough fight. We’re making a few changes to our lineup and I think the girls are just ready to ride.”

South Carolina last faced UT-Martin on April 15, 2011 in the Hunt Seat bracket at last year’s National Championships in Waco, Texas. The Gamecocks defeated the Skyhawks 5-3, as juniors Kimberly McCormack and Carolyn Curcio both went 2-for-2, combining for four of Carolina’s five points. Colvin Hedgepeth added a point, defeating her opponent in Equitation on the Flat.

Prior to that meet, the Gamecocks and Skyhawks last faced each other during the 2009-2010 season. It was on Nov. 6, 2009 when South Carolina defeated UT-Martin 17-3 in Blythewood, highlighted by the fact that three current Gamecocks (Paige Dekko – Equitation on the Flat, Maggie Fortune – Horsemanship, Amanda Pope – Reining) all won MVP’s. The Gamecocks swept all four MVP’s that day, with then-senior Nicole Bourgeois winning MVP in Equitation Over Fences for her 20-point victory.

The Gamecocks last travled to UT-Martin on Jan. 24, 2009, when the Gamecocks edged the Skyhawks 8-8 on a tiebreaker. Both Hunt Seat and Western squads tied 4-4. Then a sophomore, senior Victoria Middleton won MVP for her win in Equitation on the Flat, and is the only current Gamecock rider to have won a point at UT-Martin.

The Skywaks are 2-4 this season and have lost three in a row, but UT-Martin has scored 18-points during those two losses, the same number of points the Gamecocks have scored in their last two losses.

In Reining, the Skyhawks have three riders who have three wins each this season. Michelle Chullock (3-3, one MVP), Candice Fulcher (3-3), and Kathryn Gorsuch (3-1) lead UT-Martin, while Carly Lamb has a 2-4 record but leads the Horsemanship team with two MVP’s. In Horsemanship, Gorsuch is 1-1-2 while picking up two MVP’s.

In Equitation on the Flat, Kara Bergenty leads the Skyhawks with a 4-2 record. Bergenty has emerged as one of the top riders in Equitation Over Fences this year, boasting a perfect 6-0 record to go along with three MVP’s. Caroline Cramer is 5-1 this season with one MVP.

South Carolina junior Kimberly McCormack is having a record-setting season. She is currently 12-3 overall in Hunt Seat action with two MVP’s. Her 12 regular-season wins is a career-high, surpassing her freshman season when she picked up ten regular season wins. She is currently 6-1 in Equitation on the Flat and 6-2 in Equitation Over Fences.

McCormack and freshman Katherine Schmidt are both in Wellington, Fla. on Friday to compete in the third annual Collegiate Equitation Challenge at the Winter Equestrian Festival.

McCormack will be competing in the Equitation Over Fences bracket, while Schmidt will be competing in the Equitation on the Flat bracket. McCormack is 6-2 in Equitation Over Fences this season, while Schmidt has posted eight wins so far during her freshman campaign, including four in Equitation on the Flat.

Both riders are scheduled to compete on Saturday against the Skyhawks, and will be traveling to Tennessee following the competition in Florida.

In Saturday’s 11-8 loss at Georgia, South Carolina’s Reining team gave the Gamecocks early momentum, holding the second-ranked Bulldogs to a 2-2 tie. Junior Amanda Pope picked up MVP honors for her victory, while freshman Cody McMillion improved to 3-1 as a Gamecock, including a perfect 2-0 mark against Georgia. Audrey Jewell, who is 3-1-1 this season, held her Bulldog opponent to a tie.

Horsemanship riders Johnna Letchworth and Alison Ceresani are a combined 11-3 this season. Ceresani, a sophomore, is 5-2 during her first season of competition. Letchworth, coming off an All-American season as a freshman in 2010-2011, is currently 6-1 with two MVP’s.