Lexington, Ky.—May 6
Centenary College (N.J.) held onto its lead in the Collegiate Cup in Day 2 of the IHSA National Championship. A win by Natasha Klingenstein in the intermediate equitation over fences and Kayla Felstedt's third in the walk/trot/canter hunter seat equitation boosted the team's score to 26.
Skidmore College, the reigning national champions, still sit in second with a team score of 19 points, closely followed by another New York college, St. Lawrence University, with 18.
The St. Lawrence Saints found their way into the top three thanks to Sophie Miller's winning ride in the walk/trot/canter hunter seat equitation and teammate Jessie Lewis' third place finish in the intermediate equitation over fences.
"I just thought it was really cool that I even made it to Nationals," said Miller, a freshman. "Because both of my parents, who also went to St. Lawrence, rode on the IHSA team and made it [to the National Championship]."
Centenary is also ruling over the USEF/Cacchione Cup competition, which began this morning. Team Captain Marissa Cohen put in an over fences round on Hollins University's Rocky which placed her in fourth after the first phase. As one of the top 24 riders, she returned in section A of the hunter seat equitation on the flat. Her flat class score of 87.0 gave her a combined score of 169.50, enough to steal the top spot. New York University's Shelby Wakeman is only a half-stride behind with a 169.
Bob Crandall and Kim Dorfman are officiating over the hunter seat divisions. Both judging their first IHSA National Championship, they've enjoyed the differences they've seen in intercollegiate competition.
"It's definitely the luck of the draw," said Crandall, Wellington, Fla. "And it's sort of an open door for not just the kids that show all over the country and have their own horses, but a lot of these kids that haven't had that opportunity and come to college and find it there."
They will call back up to 10 of the top-placed USEF/Cacchione Cup riders for a work-off phase tomorrow. Dorfman, Aiken, S.C., said she was impressed with the group's performances today, and she and Crandall both agreed that "the top eight or 10 riders are a strong enough group that they could handle a work-off with no stirrups," though they are still discussing options.
Alumni Comeback: Check!
If Kelley Mallery had been told two years ago that she would win two consecutive IHSA national championships in the alumni equitation over fences division, she wouldn’t have believed it. At that time, the 38-year-old Hollins University (Va.) graduate hadn’t been on a horse in over a year and hadn’t competed in nearly a decade. But all of that changed with the persuasion of longtime friend Joleen DeWitt.
DeWitt, who coaches Northern Illinois University’s equestrian team, called Mallery three weeks before the 2009-2010 IHSA season began. According to Mallery, there was little room for negotiation when DeWitt called her. “[DeWitt] said, ‘We start intercollegiate in three weeks. Let’s go,’ ” said Mallery.
Mallery started riding again, and three weeks later she found herself competing in an IHSA show. By the 2010 IHSA National Championships (Ky.) in May, she was holding the blue ribbon.
Coming into this year’s championship, Mallery had less preparation than she would have liked. She took a new job with the U. S. Hunter Jumper Association (Lexington, Ky.) about three months ago, which has kept her busy. “There were about six weeks when I didn’t get to ride much. I legged up a little for [IHSA Regionals], and I rode twice a week for the past three weeks. That’s about all I could do,” said Mallery.
She made the most of her time, and credited trainer Elaine Schott, Versailles, Ky., for her quick preparation. She was appreciative of her draw in the class.
“[Darina] was perfect, I mean perfect. I really just had to find the distances. She’s just a great horse, and I was excited to draw her,” she said of Virginia Intermont’s mare.
Mallery had a lot to live up to if she was going to be as successful as she was in her intercollegiate heyday. As a student at Hollins, Mallery won the individual open equitation over fences at the 1992 IHSA National Championship. Now, nine years later, it appears that her comeback is complete. Hollins coach Nancy Peterson was not surprised at Mallery’s back-to-back wins.
“This is one of the most talented riders we’ve ever had go to Hollins. Ever. She can ride anything,” said Peterson.
Though she was happy to earn a few more blues, Mallery felt as though the IHSA competitions served a greater purpose. “It got me back into riding in general. A lot of people came into this and let me ride their horses. I really appreciate everyone pulling for me and letting me ride.”
A Friday Win
Klingenstein continued her success from yesterday by winning the Collegiate Cup intermediate equitation over fences during Friday morning competition. She piloted St. Lawrence University’s Bing to the win, earning a score of 84. The Centenary junior also took second in yesterday’s Collegiate Cup novice hunter seat equitation.
Though it’s her first time competing at Nationals, the 22-year-old appeared oblivious to the pressure. Klingenstein is experienced when it comes to adjusting to new situations. The Torrance, Calif., native transferred to Centenary this year because of its equine studies program.
“California had good [equine studies programs], but I felt like Centenary would be a better fit,” she said.
The trek from California to New Jersey is a long one, especially when you’re about to be the new girl on campus. However, Klingenstein had no trouble finding her niche on the equestrian team.
“It was hard at first because there were already so many bonds formed, but everybody was so welcoming, and now I feel like I’m at home,” she said.
Jenna Gunnell of St. Lawrence University proved that riding can be picked up at any age. Much has happened to the sophomore in the last two years. She joined the St. Lawrence team having never ridden a horse before. Fast forward to this weekend, and she’s holding the blue after her ride in the individual walk-trot hunter seat equitation class.
The 20-year-old has always been a horse lover, but it wasn’t until she was applying for college that she decided she wanted to ride.
“I worked at a therapeutic riding center in high school, but besides that I had never gotten on a horse. I made my decision to go to St. Lawrence in part because of the IHSA,” said Gunnell.
When she started competing, Gunnell was surprised by how nervous she got in the ring. Her ride in today’s class was no exception, but she held herself together as she rode Sewanee University’s Footing.
“I was tense at first, but in the second direction, I told myself to breathe and enjoy myself because this was a once in a lifetime experience,” she said.