Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stanford Wins Eighth Consecutive Zone Championship

Stanford's Zone champion team

On April 6 and 7, the Stanford Equestrian Team traveled to the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, CO for the IHSA Zone 8 Finals. Riders from the 54 teams located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and British Columbia traveled to Zone 8’s Region 5 to compete in individual and team competition over the weekend, vying for team and individual berths to the IHSA National Finals.

Sophomore Claire Margolis winning Individual Open Flat
The Cardinal got off to a strong start with sophomore Claire Margolis (already qualified for the National Finals as Region 1’s High Point Rider for the Cacchione Cup Medal Finals) competing in Individual Open Fences and Individual Open Flat. The Open division saw top riders from the west coast, including Medal/Maclay national finalists, and Margolis put down a solid round over fences, earning her a callback for the work-off. The judge (Lucy McKinney “R,” FL) had the top riders swap horses and do a shortened course, and after a nice ride Margolis earned reserve championship honors. On the flat, Margolis drew the warmblood gelding Linus and had a stellar ride, finishing on the top of the line up and claiming Stanford’s first championship of the day. 

Senior Alison Smith in Team Intermediate Fences

The team competition got underway with senior Alison Smith in Team Intermediate Fences. Smith drew a tricky horse who was a bit anxious over the first fence but then settled into a polished and forward round and was called back for the work-off where she did a good job on a new horse, finishing third. Smith also rode on Sunday in Individual Intermediate Flat, where she finished fourth in the large class.

Sophomore Tori Greenen, champion in Team WTC

Sophomore Tori Greenen was next to go in the team competition, riding in Team Walk Trot Canter. Greenen is Stanford’s only equestrian athlete competing in two disciplines for the postseason (she is riding in Lower Training for Stanford’s dressage team at the IDA National Finals over the weekend of April 27-28). She had an exemplary showing in her hunt seat Zones berth, winning Stanford’s second blue of the day. 

Freshman Bailey Martinez in Team Intermediate Flat

Greenen was followed by freshman Bailey Martinez, competing in her first postseason (as one of three first-year riders on the Cardinal’s postseason squad) in Team Intermediate Flat. Martinez did an excellent job with her mount in the very competitive class and finished second, adding five points to the board for Stanford.

Sophomore Erin Gray was last to go on the first day of competition, riding in Team Novice Flat. Gray drew the same horse as Margolis and put in a very polished round, excelling at the sitting trot and earning her the team’s third championship. Her win helped Stanford close out the first day of competition with a small lead (3 points) over the nearest teams, the hosts Univ. of Colorado, Boulder and Cal Poly Pomona.

Margolis winning Team Open Fences (with no stirrups)

Margolis was first to show for the team on Sunday, April 7 in Team Open Fences. She drew the only jumper in the class and did a good job navigating the course, gaining an invitation to work off in the competitive class. Rather than swapping horses, the judge asked the top three riders to remove their stirrups and return to jump a course. Margolis, always the first rider on the team to offer to ride without stirrups in practice, showed that the hard work pays off when she had a flawless round and clinched her second championship of the weekend.

Freshman Holly Grench in Team Novice Fences

Freshman Holly Grench was up next in Team Novice Fences, where she drew a horse who was quite strong (after going twice without riders without stirrups in the previous classes). Grench had a strong ride, making great, educated choices on course, and ended up with a call back for a work-off. There she rode the shortened course smoothly and finished second.

Senior Eliza Richartz, riding in her first year on Stanford’s equestrian team (after spending three years on the sailing team), made her postseason debut with her ride in Team Walk Trot. Richartz showed that she is a quick study in this exciting and difficult class, nailing all of her diagonals and finishing a very respectable third, in the process helping the Cardinal maintain its lead.

Heading into the last class of the day, it was Margolis, showing in her fourth class of the weekend, who batted clean up. Though the Cardinal was out to a strong lead, making them mathematically certain of a win or tie for first, Stanford’s team captain showed her strength, riding a green 6-year-old warmblood to reserve champion honors.

Champion and Reserve Champion Teams

At the end of the Zone Finals, Stanford had secured its eighth consecutive Zone Championship, giving the team the longest active winning streak of any team at a Zone finals in the country. The seven athletes on the postseason squad showed their dedication and hard work, particularly in light of the fact that this year's team is comprised of three first-year riders, three sophomores and only one experienced senior (though Margolis, Gray and Smith have all competed in at least one previous postseason). Margolis, who finished third in the Cacchione Cup Medal Finals at the 2012 National Finals, will move on to compete in five classes (Individual Open Flat, Individual Open Fences, Team Open Flat, Team Open Fences and the Cacchione Cup Finals) at the 2013 National Finals, the only rider in the country to do so.

Stanford's hunt seat squad now turns to preparing for the IHSA National Finals on May 2-5, while the dressage squad heads off to the IDA National Finals on April 27-29.

Zone Champ Stanford and Res. Champ UC Boulder celebrate