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Nov. 8, 2013

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 5 South Carolina will try to snap a two meet losing skid on Saturday, when the Gamecocks travel to Auburn to face the second-ranked Tigers. Saturday’s meet at the Auburn University Horse Center will begin at 11 a.m. CT. It will mark the first time the two SEC foes have met since the Gamecocks beat the Tigers in the SEC Championship last season.

“We are looking forward to competing against Auburn on Saturday. They have a great team so winning at their place will be a tall order for us,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “The team has prepared their best for this meet. We have a good shot at winning if we stay focused and ride our best. Our girls are looking forward to the challenge.”

– Saturday’s meet will be South Carolina’s third straight SEC meet this fall. It will be the Gamecocks’ last conference meet until Feb. 8, when Carolina travels to Bishop, Ga. to face Georgia.

– Carolina is 0-2 in SEC play after losing a tiebreaker to Georgia on Oct. 11, and dropping a 10-9 decision to Texas A&M on Oct. 25.

– This will mark the second of five straight road meets for the Gamecocks.

– South Carolina has won four fall meets so far this season. The Gamecocks have never won five meets during the fall portion of the schedule.

– No current Gamecock has been a part of a regular season victory at Auburn. South Carolina’s last regular season win at Auburn came on Oct. 2, 2009.

Last season: The Gamecocks went 2-1 against Auburn last season. In the fall meeting (Oct. 4), the Gamecocks edged the Tigers, 10-9, in Blythewood. In the spring meeting (Feb. 14), South Carolina won two events outright (horsemanship, equitation over fences), tied in another (reining), but dropped four-of-five points in equitation on the flat, as the Tigers pulled away for the 10-9 victory. The two teams would face off once again in the inaugural SEC Championship on March 30 after Carolina upset No. 1 Georgia, 10-7. In the championship meet against the Tigers, the Gamecocks defeated the second-ranked Tigers, 10-8.

– Series history in Auburn:
Mar. 30, 2013 : Won, 10-8 (SEC Championship)
Feb. 14, 2013 : Lost, 9-10
Oct. 8, 2011 : Lost, 10-10 (tiebreaker)
Feb. 19, 2011 : Lost, 9-10
Mar. 26, 2010 : Lost, 5-14 (Southern Equestrian Championship)
Oct. 2, 2009 : Won, 12-8
Feb 7, 2009 : Won, 10-8
Sept. 29, 2007 : Lost, 8-12
April 6, 2007 : Lost, 9-10 (Southern Equestrian Championship)
Feb. 24, 2007 : Lost, 10-10 (tiebreaker)
Nov. 5, 2005 : Won, 1,177-1,169.5

Three Gamecocks won national rider of the month honors from the NCEA on Friday.

Senior Johnna Letchworth (reining), junior Katherine Schmidt (equitation over fences) and sophomore Katherine Schmidt were named NCEA Riders of the Month in their respective events. It marks the second straight month that Schmidt and Letchworth have been tabbed riders of the month by the NCEA. This is Smith’s first time being named national rider of the month.

Overall, Schmidt leads the Gamecocks with four national rider of the month awards. She previously won the honor in September 2013 (equitation over fences), and in March 2013, when she was named the nation’s top rider of the month in both equitation over fences and equitation on the flat. This is Letchworth’s second career national rider of the month award.

On top of their national rider of the month awards, both Schmidt and Letchworth were tabbed by the SEC as riders of the month last week. Letchworth (reining) and Schmidt (equitation over fences) topped the conference in their respective events. It was Letchworth’s second time winning SEC Rider of the Month honors, as she previously won the award in February 2013 (horsemanship). It was also Schmidt’s second time winning the conference award, a feat she last accomplished in March 2013 (equitation over fences).

On Oct. 23, senior Johnna Letchworth won the AQHA Amateur Western Horsemanship championship at the 47th All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio. It marked Letchworth’s fourth career championship at Congress.

She topped 95 other competitors to become the third Gamecock to win a Congress championship while on the roster. Layla Choate won the NRHA Youth Reining (14-18) Championship in 2011, and Alison Bradly won the Amateur Horsemanship title in 2005. Bradley competed at Congress again this year, earning a top-ten finish.

So far this season, junior Katherine Schmidt leads the nation with 11 wins, with two fall meets still to go. Last season, Schmidt posted six wins during the entire fall portion of South Carolina’s schedule. She went on to earn 16 victories during the spring, giving her a team-leading 22-wins during her sophomore campaign.

Schmidt and Smith are the only two Gamecocks with double-digit wins this season. Schmidt leads the Gamecocks with an 11-1 record, while Smith is 10-2. Schmidt is 6-0 in equitation over fences with four MVP’s, along with a 5-1 mark and one MVP in equitation on the flat. Smith is 5-1 in equitation on the flat with a pair of MVP’s, and she is 5-1 in equitation over fences.

Smith’s two MVP wins in equitation on the flat is tied for the team lead with junior Alexa Anthony. All four of her career MVP’s have come on the flat. She was named SEC Freshman of the Year in equitation on the flat last season, while also being named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in both equitation on the flat and equitation over genes.

Junior Adele Norton has made the most of her two starts for the Gamecocks, going 2-0 in equitation on the flat. The Virginia native performed a demonstration ride in the season opener against Kansas State on Sept. 20, posing back-to-back scores of 71.5 and 70.5. She then won an exhibition point a week later against Fresno State, earning Norton a spot in the lineup for the first time in her career. She debuted on Oct. 4 at Delaware State, knocking off her opponent, 73-69. Norton remained in the lineup for the Texas A&M meet on Oct. 25, and she picked up an 80-76 victory over the Aggies.

Gamecock junior Cody McMillion is undefeated in her last five rides this season. After suffering her only loss of the season against Kansas State on Sept. 20, the South Carolina native won four straight points, followed by a tie against Texas A&M on Oct. 25. She is currently 4-1-1 this season with one MVP.

South Carolina’s captains are helping set the tone in the ring so far this season, as both Alison Ceresani and Amber Henter are a combined 8-3 this season with one MVP. Ceresani leads the horsemanship team with a 4-2 record this season, while Henter is 4-1 with one MVP in equitation over fences. After losing in her season debut against Fresno State on Sept. 27, Henter has won four straight points.

The Gamecocks will close out the fall on Nov. 23, when Carolina travels to Brookings, S.D., to face South Dakota State. The Gamecocks will begin spring action on Feb. 1, 2014, when South Carolina travels to Las Cruces, N.M., to face New Mexico State.