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Nov. 22, 2013

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 2 South Carolina closes out the fall portion of it schedule on Saturday, when the Gamecocks (5-2, 1-2 SEC) travel to Brookings, S.D., to face South Dakota State. The Gamecocks and Jackrabbits will get underway from the DeHaan Equestrian Center at 11 a.m. CST.

“We’re looking forward to traveling up to South Dakota this weekend, and we know we’ll be going against a very talented team,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “They’re a lot better than their record indicates, and all seven of their NCEA meets this season have been on the road, so I’m sure their girls are looking forward to being at home. They beat Georgia last year during the regular season, and both their hunt seat and western teams advanced to the quarterfinals at nationals. We’ll need to come out and ride as well as we did against Auburn two weeks ago and really bring our A-game.”

• WHO: South Carolina at South Dakota State
• WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 23 • 11 a.m. ET
• WHERE: DeHaan Equestrian Center • Brookings, S.D.
• LIVE SCORING (link will be posted later)

• South Carolina is 5-2 this season, and 1-2 in SEC play.
• Carolina’s five fall victories is a team record. The Gamecocks have never won six fall meets.
• This is the third of five straight road meets for the Gamecocks, who begin spring action at New Mexico State (Feb. 1) and at Georgia (Feb. 8).
• Both of Carolina’s losses this season have come by one-point or less.

• South Dakota State is 0-7 this season in NCEA action, but the Jacks won three straight exhibition meets last month. In a hunt seat exhibition vs. Minnesota, the Jacks won 8-2, followed by back-to-back western exhibition wins over North Dakota State and Minnesota Crookston.
• Three of South Dakota State’s losses have come by two points or less. The Jacks lost an 8-8 tiebreaker to UT-Martin in the season opener on Sept, 27, and dropped an 11-9 decision at SMU on Nov. 1. South Dakota State then dropped a tiebreaker to TCU on Nov. 9.
• Saturday’s meet will be South Dakota State’s first home NCEA dual meet this season. All seven of the Jacks’ previous fall meets have been either road meets or neutral site meets. South Dakota State has competed at Baylor, at Southern Methodist, at Oklahoma State, and at New Mexico State. In neutral site meets, they have competed against UT-Martin, New Mexico State, and TCU.

• South Carolina’s first and only other visit to Brookings came during the 2005-2006 season. On April 1, 2006, the Gamecocks rallied late from a 34-point deficit to upend the Jackrabbits, 1,146.5-1143. Carolina’s hunt seat team lost, 599-565, while the western team propelled the Gamecocks with a 581-544 victory. Lindsay Pace posted an event-high score (89) in equitation over fences, Katie Grossnickle was the high scorer in horsemanship (75), and Allison Bradley posted the highest reining score (74).

• The Gamecocks and Jackrabbits last met on Sept. 25, 2010 in Blythewood, when Carolina picked up the 12-7 win to improve to 2-0 on the season. Taylor Singmaster (horsemanship) won the Gamecocks’ only MVP, as South Dakota State claimed the remaining three.

The Gamecocks are ranked No. 2 in the latest NCEA rankings. Carolina began the season ranked No. 3, then fell two spots to No. 5 after back-to-back losses to Georgia and Texas A&M.

After the Gamecocks upset then-No. 2 Auburn 12-6, the Tigers went on to hand then-No. 1 Georgia its first loss of the season, allowing Carolina to jump both teams in the rankings.

Here are the latest NCEA rankings, released on Nov. 18:

1. Baylor
2. South Carolina
3. Auburn
4. Georgia
5. New Mexico State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Kansas State
8. TCU
9. Texas A&M
10. Southern Methodist

This will mark the second straight year that the SEC will not have a team with an undefeated conference record. All four SEC teams have picked up at least one conference loss this season, meaning the spring meets will be very competitive as South Carolina, Georgia, Auburn, and Texas A&M vie for seeding for the SEC Championship.

South Carolina is in the midst of a five-meet road street, the longest stretch away from Blythewood the Gamecocks will endure this season. After losing 10-9 at Texas A&M on Oct. 25, the Gamecocks picked up a 12-6 win at Auburn on Nov. 9, Carolina’s third win in four tries over the Tigers. Saturday’s meet at South Dakota State will be the third meet in this five-meet stretch. The Gamecocks begin spring action at New Mexico State on Feb. 1, and a week later Carolina heads to Bishop, Ga., for a showdown with the Bulldogs.

South Carolina has already set a program record for fall wins with five. In previous seasons, the Gamecocks competed in more regular season meets in the spring compared to the fall, not providing many opportunities to reach the five-win mark in the first half the year. This season, Carolina has eight meets during the fall season, the most ever in team history. In the spring, the Gamecocks will compete in just five regular season meets, three of which will take place on the road (New Mexico State, Georgia, UT-Martin).

Along with setting a program record for fall wins, the Gamecocks have established a new program record for most points scored in a three, four, five, six, and seven-meet stretch during a single season. Carolina has won 88 points this season.

South Carolina has posted nine or more points in ten straight dual meets, dating back to last season. The Gamecocks have also scored nine or more points in 13 of their last 14 dual meets.

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 Bradley won the Amateur Horsemanship title in 2005. Bradley competed at Congress again this year, earning a top-ten finish.

Four Gamecocks have perfect 4-0 records in individual events this season. Katherine Schmidt (equitation over fences), Amber Henter (equitation over fences), Johnna Letchworth (reining), and Layla Choate (reining) all have 4-0 marks on the road this season. Cody McMillion is also undefeated on the road with a 3-0-1 record in reining, along with Sam Chiodo’s 3-0-1 mark on the road in horsemanship. Adele Norton is undefeated on the road, boasting a 3-0 record in equitation on the flat.

The Gamecocks will kickoff the spring portion of their schedule on Feb. 1, when Carolina travels to New Mexico State.