Riding Opens Strong at Preseason Tournament of Champions

Photo of MHC sophomore Honami Tanaka during her blue ribbon ride at Preseason Tournament of Champions.

LYNCHBURG,Va. – The 2017-18 season got underway on Saturday as the Mount Holyoke College riding team competed at the Preseason Tournament of Champions hosted by Randolph.  The show was the first in a series of four invitational competitions featuring the top equestrian teams from around the country. The Lyons brought two teams to Virginia, paced by fourth overall by MHC Yellow Ribbon, and eighth by MHC Team Blue.

The day started early and first to compete was spphomore Franny Eremeeva, who rode beautifully in Open Flat for a third-place finish for Team Blue. Next up was junior Emma Recchi, who had a lovely ride for fifth place in Intermediate Flat, also for Team Blue. Senior Mollie Kowalchik entered the ring next in Open Fences, putting in a nice round worthy of second place for Team Yellow Ribbon, while classmate Maddy Skrak competed next in Intermediate Fences for Team Blue earning third overall.

Taking a break from the team action, Eremeeva and Kowalchik both had strong rides in the flat phase of the TOC High Medal, earning them both a call-back for the jumping phase. Returning to the team classes, first-year Sara Hearn made her collegiate debut in Novice Flat. She had a gorgeous ride to earn second place for Team Yellow Ribbon. Sophomore Sesil Lee was next up for Team Yellow Ribbon in Walk-Trot. She put in a nice ride for fifth place. Senior Sabrina Fox followed with a stunning ride in Novice Flat to earn second place for Team Blue, while junior Lily DeBenedictis entered the ring next for a solid ride in the flat phase of the TOC Low Medal.

Novice Over Fences followed where first year Ellie Hansen made her collegiate debut with a nice ride to earn seventh place for Team Blue. Senior Cat Lamond represented Team Yellow Ribbon next in Walk Trot Canter. She had a strong ride for fifth place. Kowalchik entered the ring again for Open Flat, putting in a stellar ride to earn the first blue ribbon of the day for Team Yellow Ribbon. Senior Anna Rzchowski was next up for Team Yellow Ribbon, with a lovely ride in Intermediate Flat for the sixth-place ribbon.

Next, Eremeeva entered the ring again for Open Fences, where she put in a solid round for sixth place for Team Blue. The second Flat Phase of the TOC Low Medal followed, with Fox and sophomore Katerina Alvarez. Both riders had wonderful rides, and Fox earned a call-back to the fences phase.

Next up, Hearn competed again in Intermediate Fences with a stunning round to earn third place for Team Yellow Ribbon. Skrak entered the ring next in the second section of the TOC High Medal flat phase, putting in a marvelous ride to earn a spot in the fences phase. Sophomore Honami Tanaka was next with her TOC debut in Walk Trot. She had a dazzling ride to earn Mount Holyoke's second blue ribbon of the day, this time for Team Blue.

Sophomore Sarah Etzel was next up for Team Blue in Walk Trot Canter. She put forth a lovely ride for fifth, while the team competition finished with Rzchowski  who earned fourth in Novice Fences for Team Yellow Ribbon.

The fences phase of the TOC High Medal followed with Skrak, Eremeeva, and Kowalchik all putting in great rounds to earn third, sixth, and ninth, respectively. Fox was next in the fences phase of the TOC Low medal. Her solid round secured her the eighth place ribbon.

Both Mount Holyoke teams finished in the top eight out of fourteen highly competitive teams. The Yellow Ribbon team finished fourth with 29 total points. Team Blue was close behind with a total of 25 points, worthy of eighth place.

Mount Holyoke returns to action in October when it opens the regular season at the Williams College Show.

Team Results:

1. SCAD BEE-lieve - 49
2. Randolph College Sexxy Rexxy - 37
3. Randolph College S K - 32
4. MHC Yellow Ribbon - 32
5. Penn State University - 28
6. Goucher College - 26
7. SCAD BEE-Strong - 25
8. MHC Team Blue - 25

Release courtesy of MHC rider Mollie Kowalchik. Photos courtesy of MHC Riding.