Wellington, FL – February 9, 2013 – The fourth annual Collegiate Equitation Challenge, hosted at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), took place Friday evening at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). The top riders representing varsity teams from the National Collegiate Equitation Association (NCEA) competed head-to-head in a bracket format both over fences and on the flat.
Schaefer Raposa, a freshman at Southern Methodist University, took home the over fences championship trophy, presented by the South Florida Hunter Jumper Association, with a high score of 92. Megan Violand, a senior at South Dakota State University (SDSU), conquered the flat bracket and was awarded the championship trophy, presented by Alex Jayne and Our Day Farm. Earlier in the night, Raposa was awarded the High Score Award for her first round score of 90. The award was presented by Jill Townsend and Winter Heaven Farm. Champion of the consolation bracket was Catherine Sarosy, of Miami University of Ohio. The consolation trophy was awarded by Martha Jolicoeur.
Riders competed over courses set at 3’6″ designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, KY. The judges were Jack Towell and Cynthia Hankins. Nearly 30 horses were generously donated by local professionals. Sixteen riders competed earlier in the afternoon in the first round of competition, where the starting 16 were whittled down to the top eight to compete under the lights in the International Arena at the PBIEC. The remaining eight riders competed in a consolation bracket immediately following the first round.
After three intense over fences rounds, Raposa faced off against Baylor University sophomore Samantha Schaefer. Both riders were aboard Jet Stream K, owned by Kama Godek. This year was Raposa’s first time competing in the class, and she was thrilled to be able to bring home a victory for her team. “I’m so excited! [Riding] is an individual sport, and I’m just happy to win as part of a team. It’s a great group of girls at SMU so it really makes it fun,” Raposa stated.
Raposa was also impressed by her high-quality mounts throughout the event. “I think I was very lucky with my draws. I got some great horses. Tonight, my first horse [Jimmy Torano’s London] was little ‘woken up’ in the school area, but once we were in the ring he knew his job. The last horse [Jet Stream K] was a blast to ride. Wherever I turned and legged him on, he was right there with me at each jump,” Raposa described.
Assistant coach Natalie Burton couldn’t have been more pleased with Raposa’s performance. “She’s got so much talent and she’s such a great kid. She’s won so much, but she’s always open to advice and it really showed tonight. She adjusted from an interesting situation in the first round to some really great rides in the following rounds. She deserved every point of the 92,” Burton stated.
The flat phase of competition came down to a battle of the veterans between Violand and fellow senior Larissa Laffey of Kansas State University. After Laffey went off-pattern, Violand claimed victory with a score of 147. Lena Wedenmark’s Don Valentino served as the mount for both riders.
Violand competed at the FTI WEF Collegiate Equitation Challenge in 2011, but in the over fences portion. Preparing for the flat was an entirely new experience. “Because you have the test in advance, you can go through it beforehand. You have that repetition and the practice going in, which is really nice,” Violand stated.
Although Friday night wasn’t Violand’s first time in the International Arena, it’s an experience that never gets old. “It’s absolutely incredible! You walk in and you can’t help but just look around and be taken aback by how spectacular it is,” Violand described.
Violand was also more than happy with the quality of horses provided for the competition. “The horses were spectacular!” Violand emphasized. “Don Valentino had a little bit more animation than the first horse I rode, but they were both incredible. You felt like you were dancing around the flat arena.”
Violand was described as the ideal student athlete by SDSU assistant coach Kamerra Brown. “Megan is the type of student that any coach would love to have. She listens, she applies what you tell her, she’s a thrill. She always learns something from each ride and she is always happy to work for you. She truly loves the sport,” Brown stated.
A grand total of sixteen schools were represented in this year’s competition. Additional riders included University of Georgia’s Olivia Dorey, New Mexico State University’s Emily McConnell, University of South Carolina’s Amber Henter, Texas A&M University’s Emily Williams, Kansas State University’s Rachel Webster, University of Tennesee-Martin’s Kara Bergenty and Katie Miranda, Florida Atlantic University’s Caroline Woods, Oklahoma State University’s Sam Harrison and Allison Joyce, Texas Christian University’s Demi Stiegler, Fresno State University’s Kimberly Hewson-Budnik, South Dakota State University’s Santana Wright, Delaware State University’s Alyssa Berfield, and Auburn University’s Jennifer Waxman.
For more information, please visit www.collegiateequestrian.com.
The fifth week of the FTI WEF continues today with a full schedule of hunter, jumper, and equitation classes, including the THIS Children’s Medal 14 & Under and tonight’s $82,000 Adequan Grand Prix, CSI 2*. Gates open at 6 pm.
Photo Credit: Photos © Sportfot, An Official Photographer of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, us.sportfot.com. These photos may be used only in relation to this press release and must include photo credit.
About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival
The 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 9 through March 31. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $7 million in prize money will be awarded.
About FTI Consulting
Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.