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Feb. 5, 2014

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – University of South Carolina junior Katherine Schmidt is one of 16 collegiate riders selected to compete at the 2014 Collegiate Equitation Challenge, held at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Fla. This year’s Collegiate Equitation Challenge will take place on Friday.

The Winter Equestrian Festival is the world’s largest and longest running equestrian competition. The 12-week event hosts more than 5000 horses from 50 states and 31 countries and is held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. This year, the competition runs Jan. 8 through Mar. 30.

“This is a great opportunity for Katherine to compete on the national stage and we’re excited for her,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “She has the benefit of having shown there two years ago in the flat competition, and she has proven herself to be an elite rider at the college level. Katherine’s records and stats speak for themselves, but her work ethic and competitive spirit have helped her greatly in college and I think that’s why she’s been so successful. Some of the very best riders in the country are going to be in this year’s bracket, so it’s going to be a great show.”

For the third year in a row, Schmidt leads South Carolina in wins (14) and she is tied for the team lead in MVPs (6). In just the first three months of the season, Schmidt was twice named national rider of the month (September, October) by the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) while also earning SEC Rider of the Month honors in October.

Last year as a sophomore, Schmidt went 22-10, posting three MVPs, earning the Connecticut native NCEA honorable mention All-America honors in both equitation on the flat and equitation over fences. She was also named to the SEC All-Championship Team in equitation over fences.

During the 2011-2012 season, Schmidt went 25-7 and was named Female Athlete of the Year at the University of South Carolina. During her freshman campaign, she went 9-1 in postseason action after going 16-6 during the regular season. As a freshman, Schmidt competed in the 2012 Collegiate Equitation Challenge in the flat bracket, where she finished second. Then-junior Kimberly McCormack was the champion that year in the equitation over fences bracket, which Schmidt will be competing in this year.

After the Collegiate Equitation Challenge wraps up on Friday, Schmidt and hunt seat coach Carol Gwin will travel to Bishop, Ga., as the top-ranked Gamecocks will compete against No. 6 Georgia on Saturday at the UGA Equestrian Complex.