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Oct. 10, 2013

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 3 South Carolina opens SEC play on Friday, when the Gamecocks host No. 1 Georgia at One Wood Farm in Blythewood. Friday’s meet will begin at 2 p.m., and fans are reminded that pets are not allowed at One Wood Farm, for the safety of the riders and horses.

Friday’s meet will officially kickoff the SEC equestrian schedule, as the 2013-2014 season marks the second year that the conference has sponsored an equestrian championship.

“We’re looking forward to hosting Georgia on Friday and I think it’s going to be the type of SEC meet we’ve come to expect,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “Georgia’s a tough team, and they’re No. 1 in the country and they’re a powerhouse team, so we know what we’ll be going against. This is a great opening meet for the SEC this season and I think we’ll be seeing two very talented teams battle it out.”

• WHO: No. 1 Georgia at No. 3 South Carolina
• WHEN: Friday, October 11, 2013
• WHERE: One Wood Farm • Blythewood, S.C.

At last season’s NCEA National Championships, the Gamecocks and Bulldogs met in the semifinals of the hunter seat bracket. Georgia opened with a 4-0 sweep in equation on the flat, a deficit that Carolina nearly overcame. The Gamecocks made it a 4-1 meet after winning the first point in equitation over fences, but the Bulldogs won the next point to clinch the victory. Carolina would go on to win the final two points, dropping the meet, 5-3.

Then-No. 6 South Carolina got a dominating 8-2 performance from its hunt seat team, as the Gamecocks upset top-ranked Georgia, 10-7, in the semifinals as last year’s SEC Championship. Carolina got a pair of 4-1 wins in equitation over fences and equitation on the flat, along with two points from the western team to send the Gamecocks to the championship meet, where they would go on to defeat No. 2 Auburn to win the inaugural championship.

The last three times South Carolina and Georgia have met when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 1, the Gamecocks are a perfect 3-0.

• Mar. 28, 2013 – Won 10-7
• Nov. 2, 2013 – Won 11-8
• Mar. 31, 2012 – Won 10-10 (tie-break)

The Gamecocks have been scoring points at an unprecedented pace this season.

South Carolina has already set the team record for points scored through two, three, and four consecutive meets. Through four meets this season, the Gamecocks have scored 58 points, dropping only 15 during that span.

This year’s Gamecocks have scored 58 points through just four meets this season. Here is a breakdown of how many dual meets is took the Gamecocks to score their first 58 points of the season from the past eight years.

• 2013-2014 – 10/5/2013 vs. SMU (four dual meets)
• 2012-2013 – 2/14/2013 at Auburn (seven dual meets)
• 2011-2012 – 11/4/2011 vs. Georgia (five dual meets)
• 2010-2011 – 1/30/2011 at Baylor (seven dual meets)
• 2009-2010 – 11/7/2009 vs. Fresno State (five dual meets)
• 2008-2009 – 1/31/2009 vs. Texas A&M (seven dual meets)
• 2007-2008 – 11/3/2007 vs. Georgia (six dual meets)
• 2006-2007 – 2/3/2007 vs. Oklahoma State (six dual meets)

Senior Johnna Letchworth is now South Carolina’s all-time leader in career MVP’s, passing Kimberly McCormack for the most in program history in the win over SMU on Oct. 5. Letchworth won her 18th career MVP in that meet, her fourth of the season and just her second ever in reining. Her first 16 MVP’s came in horsemanship, while her last two have come in reining.

Letchworth, who joined the reining lineup for the first time this season, has a 3-1 reining record with a pair of MVP’s. In horsemanship, she also had a 3-1 record with two MVP’s.

Sophomores Samantha Smith and Samantha Kraus have opened the season with a combined 14-0 record.

Smith is 8-0 this season with a pair of MVP’s, having gone 2-for-2 in South Carolina’s first four meets of the season. She is four wins away from topping the 11 wins she posted during the regular season last year.

Kraus is 6-0, and she has already tripled her regular season win total from a year ago. She opened the season with two 2-for-2 performances against No. 5 Kansas State and Fresno State, and then went on to win both of her rides last weekend against Delaware State and Southern Methodist.

Kentucky native Layla Choate is off to a 4-0 start for the Gamecocks this season, leading the reining team in wins. After posting six wins during the regular season last year, Choate has won four in a row, including an MVP win against No. 5 Kansas State on Sept. 20.

Sophomore Abigail Pait boasts a perfect 2-0 record for the Gamecocks in horsemanship. She made her competition debut on Sept. 27 against Fresno State, winning he point, 71.5-70.5, as part of a 5-0 sweep for the horsemanship team. She won her second point on Oct. 4 against Delaware State, knocking off her opponent, 72-65.5.

Senior Katie Kopf is 2-0 for Carolina this season. The Michigan native has also won three straight points, dating back to last year’s NCEA National Championships. Her three-point winning streak is the longest current streak on the horsemanship team.

Sophomore Sarah Bouchard is one two Gamecocks that are undefeated in reining this season. Along with junior Layla Choate who is 4-0 this season, Bouchard is 2-0 for Carolina this year, matching her win total from her freshman campaign.

In last year’s SEC Championship semifinal meet against Georgia, Bouchard was the only Gamecock reiner to win her point, knocking off her opponent 136.5-135.

Junior Katherine Schmidt is second on the team in wins this season with a 7-1 record. Schmidt won three MVP’s in Carolina’s first two meets, going 4-0 at home for the Gamecocks. In last weekend’s road trip to Delaware State, she went 3-1 in hunt seat action, dropping her first point of the season on Oct. 4 against the Hornets.

Jordan Brown has wasted no time making the most of her senior season. The North Carolina native already has three wins for the Gamecocks, already her most wins in a season. After only competing once last season, Brown already has wins over No. 5 Kansas State, Fresno State, and Delaware State.

• I-77 North
• Exit 27 – Blythewood Road
• Turn left onto Blythewood Road, crossing over I-77
• Drive 0.9 miles, turning right onto Syrup Mill Road
• Drive 0.7 miles, and One Wood Farm will be on your left. The facility is marked with a large sign that is visible from the road