Riding Wins 2015 Zone 1 Championship; Advances to IHSA Nationals

Riding Wins 2015 Zone 1 Championship; Advances to IHSA Nationals

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – Powered by a number of outstanding performances, the Mount Holyoke riding team claimed victory at the 2015 Zone 1 Finals, hosted at the MHC Equestrian Center on Saturday. With the victory, the Lyons qualified as a team to compete at the IHSA National Championships, as well as seeing several individuals qualify also. Earning second overall was Tufts University, who will join MHC at Nationals after winning the tiebreaker against Sacred Heart University.

Individual Open Fences was the first class of the day, and Mount Holyoke had two riders qualified for the class.  Sophomore Bridget Finnerty had a beautiful round and placed fifth, just missing testing, and senior Maura Zaldonis had a nice ride for seventh place.  Finnerty then followed up with a second place ride in Team Open Fences, getting some points for MHC. 

The Lyons then took the top spots in Individual Intermediate Fences, qualifying seniors Anne Waldo and Jess Murray for Nationals with their first and second place finishes, respectively.  Continuing with the strong rides, first-year Maddy Skrak won Team Intermediate Fences, putting MHC into an early lead in the team competition which they would hold for the rest of the day.

In Individual Alumni Fences, MHC's IEA coach Tara Mathews put in a beautiful round for the win, qualifying her for Nationals as well.  Individual Novice Fences followed, where junior Genevieve Couldwell had a lovely ride for third place.  In Team Novice Fences, first-year Anna Rzchowski had a smooth ride and test to place second, adding points for MHC.

After a schooling break, senior Heather Zadra started the flat classes with a second place ride in Individual Intermediate Flat, qualifying her for Nationals.  First-year Mollie Kowalchik then took top honors in Team Intermediate Flat, putting MHC further into the lead.  Individual Alumni Flat followed with Mathews again qualifying for Nationals, this time coming in second place. 

In Team Novice Flat, first-year Mika McKinney had a lovely ride for second place, and MHC added another win from Sabrina Fox in Team Walk-Trot-Canter.  In Team Walk-Trot, first-year Illianna Termuehlen rode very well on a harder horse, placing fourth.  To round out the team classes, senior Abby Raucher placed fifth on another difficult horse.  In the last individual class, Individual Open Flat, Finnerty just missed out on going to Nationals with a lovely ride for third place, and Raucher rode well for a 10th place finish.

After the Team Open Flat class, Mount Holyoke came out on top with 41 points, qualifying for Nationals.  Tufts University and Sacred Heart University were tied for 2nd with 35 points each, and after the first tiebreaker - number of first place ribbons - were still tied.  The next tiebreaker was number of 2nd place ribbons, and Tufts had 2 while Sacred Heart only had 1, so Tufts was named the Reserve Champion team and will join Mount Holyoke at Nationals to represent Zone 1.

IHSA Nationals will be held at The Big E in West Springfield on April 30-May 3.

Team results:

Champion Team - Mount Holyoke College, 41 points

Reserve Champion Team - Tufts University, 35 points

3rd Place - Sacred Heart University, 35 points

4th Place - University of Rhode Island, 29 points

5th Place - University of Vermont, 27 points

Individual riders qualified for Nationals:

Anne Waldo - Intermediate Fences

Jess Murray - Intermediate Fences

Heather Zadra - Intermediate Flat

Tara Mathews - Alumni Fences and Flat