2018-19 Riding Year In Review

Group photo of the 2019 Spring Equestrian Team.

The Mount Holyoke riding team, under the direction of 36th-year head coach C.J. Law, continued to showcase why it is among the best in the nation during the 2018-19 campaign. The Lyons, who won eight shows during the regular season, once again finished at the top of the Regional standings and saw five individuals compete at the IHSA National Championships.

MHC opened its regular season with a vengeance, capturing victory in each of its first six shows. The Lyons garnered High Point honors at the Smith to get things going, followed by a win at Williams to make it two-in-a-row. MHC captured victory at its October home show, combined with three wins in November at UMass, Worcester State and its second home show. Overall, the Lyons took home 51 blue ribbons over the six-show span, including Overall High Point Rider honors in two shows.

The Lyons headed into the holiday break in solid form, finishing fourth overall at the 2018 Holiday Tournament of Champions. MHC then placed sixth at the 2019 Winter II Tournament of Champions.

MHC dove back into regular season competition with gusto, earning Reserve Champion honors at the Smith show, before capturing wins at its spring show and the Hampshire Show to conclude the regular season. The Lyons posted 371 points in Region III competition to take the title once again as senior Emma Recchi earned year-end High Point Rider recognition, as well as Fences and Flat rider honors.

Mount Holyoke then saw 15 members in action at the Regional Championships, paced by blue ribbon rides from sophomore Sara Hearn, junior Sarah Etzel, Recchi and senior Daisy Sears.

It was another tough battle at the Zone 1 Championships as the Lyons fell just short in the team competition behind Roger Williams (38 points) and Sacred Heart (37 points) with 35 total points. Five riders qualified individually for the National Championships, including Recchi as she was one of three selected to compete in the USEF/Cacchione Cup in Syracuse.

This year's event, hosted at the Expo Center at the New York State Fairgrounds, saw several outstanding performances. Hearn won her second national championship in as many years, taking the victory in Individual Intermediate Equitation Over Fences. Earning the top overall score in the class, Hearn was one of three brought back to test and she completed it perfectly to win the crown.

Etzel earned ninth in Individual Walk-Trot-Canter Equitation, while junior Honami Tanaka was sixth overall in Individual Walk-Trot Equitation. Recchi shouldered some tough missteps in Cacchione Cup Fences, but rebounded for a solid effort in Flat. Sophomore Libby Sams earned Honorable Mention in Individual Novice Equitation on the Flat to round out the Lyons efforts at Nationals.

Hearn became the sixth rider in the last seven 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 33 riders took home IHSA National Academic Honors. Thirteen of those honorees were on the First Team, which requires a 3.80 grade point average or higher, while the other 20 were Second Team selections – a 3.50 GPA requirement.