South Carolina Wins 2007 Varsity National Title

The University of South Carolina won the hunter seat and overall varsity equestrian championships April 20 as Texas A&M captured the western title.
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The University of South Carolina won the hunter seat and overall varsity equestrian championships April 20 as Texas A&M captured the western title.

April 26, 2007 -- After three days of intense competition with 12 teams in each hunter seat and western division vying for the Varsity Equestrian National Championship, the University of South Carolina (USC) won its second overall championship in three years at the Heart O' Texas Fair Complex in Waco on April 20 after a nail biting head-to-head competition in which both the western and hunter seat championships were tied going into the final round.

"To me this win means a lot more because this format I think is where we are going as far as an NCAA Championship," said South Carolina Head Coach Boo Duncan. "Our team was competitive on both sides. It's very special to win this. We were a little worried coming into today because we knew we had won the overall title on Thursday so we didn't want everyone to get too carried away with that coming into the championship rounds on Friday. We really stuck to our guns and tried to stay organized and focused today and did as well as I think we could do today."

The unique thing about collegiate riding is that all riders compete on unfamiliar horses. Each rider is afforded only four minutes in the warm-up ring on the unfamiliar horse before competing in front of the judge. Each rider competes in a head-to-head match up against a rider with the school they are paired up against.

The South Carolina hunter seat team rolled its way to a third straight national title, dropping only four of its 24 individual match-ups on the way to the title. Georgia gave the Gamecocks their biggest test, but still fell by a 6-2 margin. South Carolina riders Nicole Bourgeois, Lindsay Pace and Kristen Terebesi competed all week long without dropping a single match.

"We beat Georgia twice in the regular season so we were pretty confident heading into the championship match," Duncan said. "The more we rode this week, the stronger we got."

Texas A&M won its second western national title in three years with a young squad. The Aggies won the national title with only one upperclassman on the competition roster.

Despite falling to Texas A&M in the western final, South Carolina's magical western run was a key to the Gamecocks winning the overall national title. South Carolina entered the championships as the No. 7 seed (of 12).

Final Overall Team Standings:

1. South Carolina - 64

2. Texas A&M - 42

3. Georgia - 31

4. Kansas State - 27

5. Oklahoma State - 25

6. New Mexico State - 21

7. Auburn - 16

8. Baylor - 11

Hunter Seat Final Standings:

1. South Carolina

2. Georgia

3. Kansas State

4. Auburn

5. Oklahoma State

6. Texas A&M

7. Fresno State

8. Baylor

Western Final Standings:

1. Texas A&M

2. South Carolina

3. New Mexico State

4. Oklahoma State

5. Baylor

6. Kansas State

7. Georgia

8. Auburn

Texas A&M won the inaugural national title in Gainesville, Fla., in 2002. The University of Georgia won the next two titles in 2003 in College Station, Texas, and in 2004 in Conyers, Ga.

The 2008 Varsity Equestrian National Championships will again be held at the Heart O' Texas Fair Complex in Waco. For more information, visit www.varsityequestrian.com.