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April 16, 2015

Championship Central | Live Steam – Western | Live Stream – Hunt Seat | Updated Bracket

WACO, Texas – The third-ranked South Carolina equestrian team begins action at the 2015 NCEA National Championship on Friday, when the Gamecocks face the winner of Thursday’s opening round competition between New Mexico State and Fresno State. Friday’s quarterfinal round will begin at 9:30 a.m. ET at the Extraco Events Center.

“Regardless of our opponent, we know we’ll be facing a very good team on Friday,” South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. “Fresno State won the United Conference Championship this season and New Mexico State had the best conference record of all the UEC teams, so this certainly will be a tough test for us. After SECs, we came together as a team and figured a lot of things out and from what I’ve seen, our girls look ready to go.”

The Gamecocks enter this year’s national championship with a 9-5 overall record. The Gamecocks went 9-3 during the regular season while posting a 4-2 mark in SEC play. Carolina went 0-2 at the SEC Championship in College Station, falling to Auburn and Texas A&M.

South Carolina faced Fresno State earlier in the season, defeating the Bulldogs 13-6 in Fresno on Nov. 7. The Gamecocks have not faced New Mexico State this season, but Carolina picked up a 12-8 victory over the Aggies last season on Feb. 1, 2014.

South Carolina had a program-best four riders earn First Team All-America honors this year. Senior Layla Choate (reining), Sam Chiodo (horsemanship), Amber Henter (equitation over fences) and Katherine Schmidt (equitation over fences) all were named First Team All-Americans by the NCEA. This marks Schmidt’s third time being named a First Team All-American, while Choate, Chiodo and Henter all earned the honor for the first time in their careers. Schmidt also earned Second Team All-America honors in equitation on the flat and redshirt junior Samantha Smith earned Second Team All-America honors in equitation over fences.

The Gamecocks led the nation with ten riders being named to the 2015 Beval Saddlery Academic First Team on Wednesday. Courtney Allen, Alexa Anthony, Sarah Bouchard, Amber Henter, Samantha Kraus, Bailey Mierzejewski, Adele Norton, Katherine Schmidt, Sydney Smith and Kelsey Urban all earned Academic First Team honors. South Carolina also had 21 riders named to the La Hacienda Academic Honor Roll, which led all SEC schools.

The Southeastern Conference announced its annual equestrian awards this week, and the Gamecocks had four riders earn All-SEC honors and another three named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. Seniors Katherine Schmidt (equitation on the flat, equitation over fences), Amber Henter (equitation over fences), Sam Chiodo (horsemanship) and Layla Choate (reining) were named to the All-SEC Team. Freshmen Megan Overberg (horsemanship), Bailey Walters (reining) and Paisley Roberts (reining) were named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

The winner of Friday’s competition will advance to the semifinal round, which will take place on Saturday morning. The championship meet will be held on Saturday afternoon.