LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Mount Holyoke College riding team opened its 2015-16 season on Saturday at the Tournament of Champions Preseason Classic. The Lyons saw two teams in action in a field of 18 total teams. MHC's Team "Lyon" placed third overall (30 points), while Team "Mary" earned fifth (27 points).
Winning the event was Bridgewater, who posted 39 points overall. Savannah College of Art and Design's Black Team finished second with 37 points. SCAD's Gold team was fourth with 29 points to round out the top-five.
Sophomore Mollie Kowalchik kicked off the day for Team Lyon in open flat, putting in a valiant effort, but unfortunately not placing. Junior Cam Carter put in a strong performance in intermediate flat for Team Mary and came out in second place. Back in the arena for open fences, Kowalchik rode to a second place ribbon. Next up, sophomore Maddy Skrak brought in the first blue ribbon for Team Lyon in intermediate fences, while first year Grace Tice rode beautifully in the flat phase of the medal and waited patiently for the call back.
Sophomores Mika McKinney and Ellie Demmons rode the same tough draw in their respective sections of novice flat, but neither pinned. After a brief break sophomore Taryn Isenburg took the reins in novice fences, having a solid showing, but also not placing.
Junior captain Bridget Finnerty put in a solid ride to take second in open flat, while senior Genevieve Couldwell was fifth in a very competitive section of intermediate flat. Taking the reins again for open fences, Finnerty rode to a fourth place finish.
First year Julia Robinson laid down a gorgeous intermediate fences trip in her IHSA debut. She came out of the ring all smiles, and continued to smile when they announced that she won.
Senior Laura Von der Porten rode in the second section of the medal flat phase. Both she and Tice made the cut and were called back for the fences phase. As they did the draw, junior Stephanie Lewis secured a second place ribbon in the walk-trot. Transfer Cat Lamond was fifth in her walk-trot-canter debut. Rounding out the team competition was sophomore Anna Rzchowski, who took home a fifth place ribbon in novice fences.
Finishing up the long day was Tice and Von der Porten who both competed in the fences phase of the medal. Tice's outstanding round landed her in the work off with two other riders. She put in a great test to take championship honors, while Von der Porten finished eighth overall.
Mount Holyoke opens its regular season on October 3 at the Smith College Show.
Cover photo of head coach CJ Law, Grace Tice and Laura Von der Porten, courtesy of MHC Riding Team.