April 17, 2003

Brown Equestrian Team Wins Zones, Advances to Nationals

April 17, 2003

Brown's equestrian team is advancing to Nationals after a tough weekend of competition at Zones. By ending its season in first place within Region 1, the equestrian team guaranteed itself a bid to Zones, the next level of competition. The Bears competed against three regional champions in Zone 1 on Saturday - University of Vermont, Stonehill University and Mount Holyoke College. Only the top two spots secured bids to Nationals.

The day began on a positive note with a second place in open fences by Jamie Peddy '06. After a slump during the rest of the jumping, the team found itself with three classes left going into Novice flat in last place, though only by a small margin. Amanda Burden '04, who won last year for the team in Walk/Trot/Canter at Zones and Nationals, competed for the team in Novice flat, which she won, giving Brown its first win of the day.

Galyn Burke '05, also a veteran of Nationals, placed fourth for the team last year in Walk/Trot. This year, Burke won the team Walk/Trot/Canter class, tying Brown with Stonehill for first. Burke then rapidly switched horses and proceeded to win the individual Walk/Trot class, thus qualifying her for Nationals as an individual. Burke also won Walk/Trot over a week ago at Regionals. Next up was Walk/Trot rider Joanna Kels '04, who placed second, while Stonehill's rider took first. Going into the final class of the day, Stonehill led with 36, Brown was in second with 34, Mount Holyoke had 32 and UVM had 31.

This year, the Bears did not need to win open flat to win the overall competition, as they had to do in last year's competition. The team stood in a competitive position to be in the top two, but it was still anyone's game. UVM's rider won the class, Peddy placed second, Mt. Holyoke took third and Stonehill came in fourth. This left Brown and Stonehill tied for first with 39 points, UVM in second with 38 and Mt. Holyoke in fourth with 36. At this point, the team started celebrating, since they were guaranteed a spot in Nationals.

A tiebreaker was needed to determine who would win first in Zones, but unlike last year, Brown's bid to Nationals did not depend on it. Still, a new school record and an old rivalry were riding on the randomly drawn tiebreaker event, Open fences. In an auspicious twist of fate, Brown's Open rider, Peddy, drew Lexus, the same horse Heather McCrea '02 rode to victory at last year's Zones ride-off. Stonehill's rider made a few mistakes, but Peddy's ride was flawless. She won hands down, so Brown became Zone 1 champion for the first time ever, as well as the first Ivy League school to capture the title.

IHSA Nationals will be held on May 2 through 4 in Tennessee at a new $20 million equestrian coliseum. According to Bob Caccione, the IHSA's founder and director, Zone I is the "winningest Zone in the nation, making it also the toughest Zone." There are now 312 teams in 29 regions in 9 Zones with 7,000 riders. The top 17 huntseat teams and about 450 riders (between individual and team qualifiers) will compete at Nationals this year. After placing third at Nationals last year, the Bears hope to continue their success this May.

This story appeared in the Brown Daily Herald on Wednesday, April 16, 2003.