The Mount Holyoke riding team, under the direction of 33rd-year head coach C.J. Law, continued to showcase why it is among the best in the nation during the 2016-17 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 champions at the Zone 1 Championship to earn a spot at the IHSA National Championships.
After a solid fourth place showing at the Preseason Tournament of Champions to kick-off the year, MHC opened its regular season on fire, capturing four straight victories. The Lyons garnered High Point honors at the Williams, Smith, UMass/Westfield State and its own October home show to kick things off. After a reserve champion finish at the Amherst Show to open November, MHC closed out the fall campaign with a win at their home show. Overall, the Lyons took home 64 blue ribbons over the six-show span, including Overall High Point Rider honors in five-of-six shows.
The Lyons headed into the holiday break in solid form, finishing 10th overall at the 2016 Holiday Tournament of Champions. MHC then earned fifth overall at the 2017 Winter I Tournament of Champions, before wrapping-up the break with an 11th-place finish at the 2017 Winter II Tournament of Champions.
MHC dove back into regular season competition with gusto, capturing victories in each of the final two shows. The team closed out the regular season with a victory at the UMass Spring Show, earning 10 blue ribbons as junior Taryn Isenburg was named the Overall High Point Rider, as well as the Intermediate High Point Rider.
Mount Holyoke College then saw 15 members in action at the Regional Championships, paced by senior captain Bridget Finnerty, who earned the year-end High Point Fences and Flat Rider honors for the region, while first year Franny Eremeeva was the region's Reserve High Point Flat award winner.
It was another tough battle at the Zone 1 Championships as the Lyons took this year's crown by a five-point margin over the University of Rhode Island. In the end, it was a number of clutch performances in the team competition from junior Sabrina Fox and first year Honami Tanaka, who took home the blue ribbons in novice flat and walk-trot, respectively to send the Lyons back to the IHSA National Championships.
This year's Nationals, which was hosted for the second straight season at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, saw several outstanding performances. Finnerty led the way, competing in three different events, including the prestigious USEF/Cacchione Cup. She opened the action on day one with a Reserve National Champion finish in Individual Open Equitation Over Fences, following it up with sixth in Individual Open Equitation on the Flat. In the Cacchione, Finnerty was 13th of 38 competing riders from across the country.
Also finishing well at Nationals was Fox, who earned fifth overall in Collegiate Cup Novice Equitation on the Flat, while Tanaka was sixth in team action for Walk-Trot Equitation on the Flat.
Academically, the Lyons continued to shine as 22 riders took home IHSA National Academic Honors. Eleven of those honorees were named to the First Team, which requires a 3.80 grade point average or higher, while the other 11 were Second Team selections – a 3.50 GPA requirement.
• Finished 11th at the IHSA National Championships
• Bridget Finnerty '17 – Reserve National Champion in Individual Open Equitation Over Fences
• Won the Zone I, Region III Championship
• Nine student-athletes competed at Nationals; 11 represented at Zones; 15 at Regionals
• Bridget Finnerty '17 – named Regional High Point Fences & Flat Rider
• Franny Eremeeva '20 – named Regional Reserve High Point Flat Rider
• Won seven shows during 2016-17 season
• 22 student-athletes earn IHSA National Academic Award