2017-18 Riding Year In Review

Photo of the Lyons riding team at Nationals 2018. Picture courtesy of Tricia Booker, USHJA

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The Mount Holyoke riding team, under the direction of 35th-year head coach CJ Law, continued to showcase why it is among the best in the nation during the 2017-18 campaign. The Lyons, who won ten 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 with a vengeance, capturing five wins through its first six shows. The Lyons garnered High Point honors at the Williams to get things going. After taking third at the UMass Show, MHC captured victory at both of its home shows, along with the Smith and Amherst Shows. Overall, the Lyons took home 61 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 third overall at the 2017 Holiday Tournament of Champions. MHC then won at the 2018 Winter I Tournament of Champions, before wrapping-up the break with a third-place finish at the 2018 Winter II Tournament of Champions to earn the series Reserve Champions honor for 2017-18.

MHC dove back into regular season competition with gusto, capturing victories at the URI Invitational to kickoff March. After a second-place showing at the Smith Show, the Lyons won at their own home show and the Hampshire Show to conclude the regular season. That final show was highlighted by senior captain Mollie Kowalchik, who earned Overall High Point Rider honors.

Mount Holyoke College then saw 18 members in action at the Regional Championships, paced by Kowalchik, who earned the year-end High Point Rider and High Point Fences Rider honors for the region. Sophomore Franny Eremeeva was the region's Reserve High Point Rider, Reserve High Point Flat and Reserve High Point Fences Rider.

It was another tough battle at the Zone 1 Championships as the Lyons took this year's crown by a one-point margin over Boston University. In the end, it was a number of clutch performances in the team competition from first year Sara Hearn and sophomore Honami Tanaka, who took home the blue ribbons in intermediate fences and walk-trot, respectively to send the Lyons back to the IHSA National Championships. Additionally, Kowalchik was named the Zone 1 High Point Rider, guaranteeing her spot in the USEF/Cacchione Cup competition at Nationals.

This year's event, which was hosted at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, saw several outstanding performances. Kowalchik had an outstanding effort, earning the top score in the fences phase of the prestigious USEF/Cacchione Cup. She then finished solid in the flat phase to advance to the work-off on the final day of competition. In the end, Kowalchik was named the Reserve National Champion, garnering the highest honor for a Lyons rider in the event since Lindsay Sceats won in 2010.

Also finishing well at Nationals was Hearn, who battled it out for the blue ribbon in Collegiate Cup Intermediate Equitation Over Fences. She became the fifth rider in the last six years to earn a National title, joining Abby Raucher (2013), Felicia Harrsch (2014), Anne Waldo (2015) and Sabrina Fox (2016).

Academically, the Lyons continued to shine as 31 riders took home IHSA National Academic Honors. Fourteen of those honorees were named to the First Team, which requires a 3.80 grade point average or higher, while the other 17 were Second Team selections – a 3.50 GPA requirement.

  •  Finished seventh at the IHSA National Championships
  •  Mollie Kowalchik '18 – Reserve National Champion in USEF/Cacchione Cup
  •  Sara Hearn '21 –National Champion in Collegiate Cup Intermediate Equitation Over Fences
  •  Won the Zone I, Region III Championship
  •  Eight student-athletes competed at Nationals; 14 represented at Zones; 18 at Regionals
  •  Mollie Kowalchik '18 – named Regional Overall High Point Rider & Fences Rider
  •  Franny Eremeeva '20 – named Regional Reserve High Point Rider & Flat Rider
  •  Won 10 shows during 2017-18 season
  •  31 student-athletes earn IHSA National Academic Award
  •  Five earned IHSA Senior Athletic Academic Achievement Award – Taryn Isenburg '18, Mollie Kowalchik '18, Cat Lamond '18, Anna Rzchowski '18 and Emily Holowczak '18.