The Mount Holyoke riding team, under the direction of 32nd-year head coach C.J. Law, continued to showcase why it is among the best in the nation during the 2015-16 campaign. The Lyons, who won seven shows during the regular season, once again finished at the top of the Regional standings and finished as the reserve champions at the Zone 1 Championship to secure a spot at the IHSA National Championships.
After a solid third place showing at the Preseason Tournament of Champions to kick-off the year, MHC opened its regular season with tough competition, winning two of its first four shows and earning reserve in the others. The Lyons garnered High Point honors at the Smith and Amherst shows, going deeper into the fall with victories at the UMass Show, as well as their own home show in late November. Overall, the Lyons took home 62 blue ribbons over the five-show span.
The Lyons headed into the holiday break in style, finishing third overall at the 2015 Holiday Tournament of Champions. MHC wrapped-up the break with a fifth-place finish at the 2016 Winter II Tournament of Champions and earned third overall for the season series.
MHC dove back into regular season competition with gusto, capturing victories in each of the final three shows. The team closed out the regular season with a victory at the UMass Spring Show, earning 11 blue ribbons as junior captain Bridget Finnerty was named the High Point Rider.
Mount Holyoke College then saw 12 members in action at the Regional Championships. The Lyons battled it out for the coveted first and second place ribbons that would advance them to the Zone 1 Championships. Finnerty was named the year-end High Point Fences Rider, while first year Grace Tice was the year-end Reserve High Point Fences Rider.
It was a close battle at this year's Zone 1 Championships as the Lyons found themselves in a tight race for Reserve Champion with Tufts University. In the end clutch performances from sophomore Sabrina Fox, who brought home the blue ribbon in team walk-trot-canter, and classmate Illianna Termuehlen, who captured the team walk-trot class, sent the Lyons back to the IHSA National Championships.
This year's Nationals, which was hosted at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, saw a number of outstanding performances. Sitting in 11th after the opening day of action, MHC got clutch efforts from Fox, Termuehlen and sophomore Maddy Skrak in team action to propel the Lyons into second overall. Leading the way was Fox, who was crowned the National Champion after a sensational victory in Collegiate Cup Walk-Trot-Canter.
Mount Holyoke made it stick on the final day as Finnerty placed third overall in Collegiate Cup Open Equitation Over Fences to seal second for the squad and earn Reserve Champion honors. Overall, the team earned six team ribbons, while each of MHC's two individual riders garnered ribbons as well.
Academically, the Lyons continued to shine as 23 riders took home IHSA National Academic Honors. Nine of those honorees were named to the First Team, which requires a 3.80 grade point average or higher, while the other 12 were Second Team selections – a 3.50 GPA requirement.
• Finished second (Reserve Champions) at the IHSA National Championships
• Sabrina Fox '18 - National Champion in Collegiate Cup Walk-Trot-Canter
• Won the Zone I, Region III Championship
• 10 student-athletes competed at Nationals; 11 represented at Zones; 12 at Regionals
• Won seven shows during 2015-16 season
• 23 student-athletes earn IHSA National Academic Award
• One earned IHSA Senior Athletic Academic Achievement Award – Genevieve Couldwell '16
Photo courtesy of MHC Riding team.