A rainy start to the day didn’t deter many of the top collegiate equestrian teams in the nation in their quest for notoriety and bragging rights in the Tournament of Champions Preseason Classic, hosted Sunday, September 26, on the campus of Goucher College in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland. The rain eventually gave way to sunny skies, just as some of the traditional front runners in collegiate riding gave way to some hot young programs intent on setting a new direction in IHSA.
It was a quick start for Bridgewater College (Bridgewater, Virginia), when Sarah Black won the Intermediate flat class, jump starting Bridgewater to the top of the pack where they would linger throughout the day. Mary Washington and Lynchburg spotted everyone else points in the beginning, as they didn’t have their first entries till class 3, but by the end of class 4 they had both risen toward the top of the scoreboard.
Virginia Tech’s Enter Sandman team got consecutive wins from Alicia Shankle in Intermediate Fences and Sarah Williams in Walk Trot Canter, and by mid day it looked like they could repeat their 2009 win at this same show. But when Lynchburg got blue ribbons from Drew Nichols in Walk Trot and Kelli Greenslade in Walk Trot Canter, suddenly the Hornets were comfortably atop the scoreboard and driving the boat toward home. Upstart Lynchburg had never attended a Tournament of Champions show till a year ago, but has become one of the top young teams with a 3rd place finish in the 2010 Tournament of Champions Series Championship, and a close Reserve Championship behind Hollins in their IHSA region in 2010.
Lynchburg held the lead when they used their last rider in class 16, and there was nothing to do but watch Mary Washington and Bridgewater as they scored enough points in the last two classes to take the top two spots. It was the first ever Tournament of Champions win for Mary Washington, coached by UMW alumnus Teresa Seay. It was also the best ever Tournament of Champions finish for Bridgewater College, coached by Ashley Tantawi and Beth Boteler. Interestingly, Boteler was the former coach at Mary Washington. The 3rd place finish for Lynchburg was also their highest finish in a Tournament of Champions show, although Coach Matt Arrigon had ridden on Champion Teams in the Tournament as a student at Miami of Ohio.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came from West Virginia University, with a 7th Place finish. WVU has always been a top team in a less competitive region in IHSA, and it came as a surprise to the big guns when they coasted to their first Tournament of Champions team ribbon.
The Tournament of Champions Medal Champion was Mount Holyoke’s Lindsay Sceats, who also won the Cacchione Cup Championship at the 2010 IHSA Nationals in Kentucky. SCAD’s Kelse Bonham was Reserve Champion.
The judge for the Preseason Classic was Leslie Tauber Emerson, a USEF “R” judge who spends winters in Wellington Florida and the rest of the year in Lexington Kentucky. Goucher Coach Patte Zumrbun did a remarkable job putting together jump courses that were beautiful and fun to ride, posing technical questions that sorted out some of the best collegiate riders in the nation.
There are two remaining Tournament of Champions show this season, including December at Savannah College of Art and Design and January at the Chatham Hall boarding school in Virginia.
Champion – University of Mary Washington, 34 points
Res. Champion – Bridgewater College (Virginia), 30 points
3rd – Lynchburg College, 29
4th – Savannah College of Art and Design, 26
5th – Virginia Tech “Enter Sandman” team, 24
6th – Goucher College, 21
7th – West Virginia University, 19
8th – Mount Holyoke College “Silly” Team, 19
Virginia Intermont College “Gold Team”, 19
Cornell University, 18
Ohio University “Bobcat” team, 17
Lafayette College, 17
Virginia Intermont “Black team”, 17
Mount Holyoke College “Bandz” team, 15
Virginia Tech “Hokie Nation” team, 14
University of Delaware, 13
Dartmouth College, 12
Ohio University “Team Rufus”, 8