LEXINGTON, Ky. – Powered by three days of outstanding rides, the Mount Holyoke College riding team concluded action at the 2016 IHSA National Championships as this year's Reserve Champions. The Lyons, who are led by 32nd-year head coach C.J. Law, finished second overall in the field of 16 teams in action at the Kentucky Horse Park compiling 20 total points.
The Savannah College of Art and Design, who won the 2015 event, reclaimed the National title this year with 36 total points. Following MHC in third was the University of Findlay (18 points), while the University of Vermont was fourth (17 points). Centenary College was fifth overall (16 points), the University of Kentucky was sixth (13 points), St. Lawrence University was seventh (12 points) and Cornell University posted eighth (10 points).
Headlining the final day of action in the team competition was junior captain Bridget Finnerty (Baltimore, Md./Bryn Mawr School). She opened the morning with an outstanding ride in Collegiate Cup Open Equitation Over Fences. Finnerty was one of four that were called back for testing, finishing third overall with four points, sealing the Reserve Champion honors for the Lyons.
Mount Holyoke also saw first year Grace Tice (West Simsbury, Conn./West Simsbury) compete in the Collegiate Cup Open Equitation on the Flat. Despite a strong effort, she finished just outside the ribbons with an Honorable Mention.
Also highlighting the day for MHC were a pair of alums as Ila Addanki '15 (Danbury, Conn./homeschooled) and Emily Murch '14 (Phoenix, Ariz./Saguaro) both competed in the Alumni Equitation on the Flat. Addanki was eighth overall in the class, while Murch was Honorable Mention.
The final day of action was setup by Friday's outstanding effort as all three of MHC's Collegiate Cup riders earned ribbons and points to push the Lyons into the reserve position. Sophomore Maddy Skrak (Albuquerque, N.M./Sandia Prep) got things going in Collegiate Cup Intermediate Over Fences. Skrak had a strong opening ride and was one of four called back for testing. In the end, she placed fourth overall.
Next up was Finnerty, who represented Zone 1, Region 3 in the Cacchione Cup Phase 1 Over Fences. Despite a strong ride, in a field of the country's most talented riders from each zone, Finnerty was unable to advance to the Flat phase.
Late in the afternoon, the Lyons were back in action with more team competition. In the Collegiate Cup Walk-Trot, sophomore Illianna Termuehlen (Wauwatosa, Wis./Brookfield East) had an outstanding ride to finish third overall in the event.
Mount Holyoke returned to the ring in Collegiate Cup Walk-Trot-Canter. Sophomore Sabrina Fox (Westfield, Mass./Westfield) put forth an amazing ride aboard Cazenovia College's Collins. Her name was the last one called in the ribbon ceremony as she earned the victory for Mount Holyoke.
Mount Holyoke opened all the action at this year's Nationals on Thursday with a number of outstanding efforts. Sophomore Anna Rzchowski (Madison, Wisc./West) got things going in Collegiate Cup Novice Equitation Over Fences, finishing just outside the ribbons. She earned honorable mention in the event in a very tough field.
Senior Genevieve Couldwell (Salt Lake City, Utah/Rowland Hall St. Marks) then powered her way to fourth overall with an outstanding ride in Individual Intermediate Equitation on the Flat. It was her second solid ride in as many competitions, having won the Individual Intermediate Flat title at the 2016 Zone Championships.
Sophomore Mika McKinney (Montville, Maine/Belfast Area) grabbed the Lyons their first ribbon of the day, finishing fifth overall in Collegiate Cup Novice Equitation on the Flat. It was another solid effort for McKinney, who was third in team novice flat at the Zone Championships.
Next up was senior Callie Schultz (Ann Arbor, Mich./Rudolf Steiner), who grabbed a ribbon of her own. Schultz, who earned reserve champion honors at Zones, competed in Individual Walk-Trot-Canter Equitation on the Flat on Thursday, finishing fifth overall.
Rounding out the day was the Collegiate Cup Intermediate Equitation on the Flat. Representing the Lyons was sophomore Mollie Kowalchik (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland), who powered her way to the ribbon awards with a 10th place finish.
Team members representing the Lyons in this year's Collegiate Cup competition were Finnerty, Rzchowski, Tice, Kowalchik, McKinney, Skrak, Fox and Termuehlen. Individual riders included Couldwell and Schultz.
Cover photo courtesy of MHC Riding team.