Invitations were extended to 16 student athletes who currently participate in collegiate equestrian programs. They rode over fences in courses set at 3’6″ designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, KY. The judges were Leo Conroy and Christina Schlusemeyer. The 16 riders were narrowed down earlier in the day to eight who competed under the lights in the International Arena tonight. Horses and tack were generously provided by area professionals. The riders were given a four minute warm-up in which they were allowed four fences before completing the course.
Three rounds were held over fences this evening, and it came down to Kimberly McCormack from University of South Carolina and Lisa Goldman from Baylor University in the final bracket. Both riders completed the final course aboard Chalan, owned by Claire Beth Nogay, who was also given the Best Horse Award. In the first round tonight, McCormack rode Mador Du Chaufour, owned by Sarah Porter, to a score of 84. In the second round, she showed Diamond Creek, owned by Diamond Creek Stables LLC, to a score of 86.5. A final score of 87.5 aboard Chalan gave McCormick the win.
Lisa Goldman finished with scores of 86 aboard St. James, 80 aboard Diamond Creek, and 85 aboard Chalan. The other riders competing over fences tonight were Sarah Mershon of Kansas State University, Carly Anthony of University of Georgia, Haley Jacobi of Texas Christian University, Maggie Earle of Texas A&M University, Jennifer Waxman of Auburn University, and Hillary West of California State University, Fresno.
Carly Anthony was presented with an award for her high score of 90 aboard Balisto, owned by Alex Bozorgi/Believe It Farm, in the first round of competition.
A junior majoring in Geophysics, McCormack was supported tonight by USC head coach Boo Major and fellow teammates and family. McCormack, of Clermont, NJ, was proud to earn the victory for her school.
“It’s great to win for USC. It is great for the school and it is really fun to come out here and represent more than just yourself,” McCormack stated. “I think that is a definite change from when you are just competing for yourself as a junior rider; it puts more pressure on you. It’s a different kind of pressure, but it is definitely more in some ways.” McCormack has shown in the big ring at PBIEC before, competing in the USHJA International Hunter Derby during last year’s FTI WEF, but still felt the excitement of competing under the lights. “I was out here last year for the hunter derby and I had a really good time with it, so I was just kind of trying to get back into that mentality and just ride the horse I had under me. I just wanted to trust all of the horses and that they were good and they were going to do their jobs, and they all did, so it was great.” Commenting on her three mounts, McCormack stated, “My horses were great all the way through. They were all really quality horses, so I got lucky I think. They did a really good job with the class.”
The rider thanked her family and trainers for their support. “I want to thank my sister Kristy; she is number one on the list,” McCormack smiled. “She is a trainer and she has been helping me since I was little, and Missy (Clark) really helped me when I rode with her as a junior. My parents were as supportive as can be; they were awesome coming with me to all the shows and they have been great.” The collegiate competition also expanded this year to include equitation on the flat with four riders showing tonight. Taylor Brown from Baylor University won the flat championship with her overall score of 164, showing in the final round aboard Winnie, and was presented a trophy donated by Haylie Jayne Rolfe. Katherine Schmidt from the University of South Carolina competed in the final bracket against Brown and finished with a score of 143. Also competing on the flat were Kimberly Hewson Budnik from Florida State University and Christina Lin from Auburn University. The judges of the flat competition were Melissa Bark and Dee Thomas.
Flat winner Taylor Brown is a junior at Baylor University, the 2010 Big 12 championship team. The rider, from Palmyra, VA, was undefeated this past semester in her third year on the team and was honorable All-American last year over fences. This was her first time competing at the Collegiate Equitation Challenge. ”I love it; it was so much fun,” Brown smiled after her win. “With everyone from the top coming together, they’re bringing it all, no matter what. The flat was a great addition to it; it was a lot of fun.” ”I had no idea what to expect horse-wise,” Brown noted. “My final horse was a dressage horse, so I was like, ‘This is awesome! This is so much fun!’ It took me a little while to figure out the canter transition, but when I figured it out, it was so nice. She was awesome; her lengthening was amazing.” Brown has shown at the FTI WEF in previous years as a junior. Commenting on the atmosphere of the competition tonight, she stated, “It’s a major adrenaline rush. You go in there and you’re nervous, but you’re so ready to do it. It’s an amazing feeling to win. It is great representing my school and it is a good accomplishment for me as well. I’m proud of myself and proud of the horses. Everyone rode amazing. South Carolina gave me really tough competition. It was nerve-wracking, but fun at the same time.”
Although they did not compete in the final rounds, several other schools were represented in this year’s competition as well. The other riders in this morning’s rounds included Caroline Foltz of Delaware State University, Amy Lang of New Mexico State University, Samantha Elser of Oklahoma State University, Abbie Britton of Sacred Heart University, Santana Wright of South Dakota State University, Julianna Fischer of Southern Methodist University, Nellie Foosaner of University of Miami, and Caroline Cramer of University of Tennessee Martin.
Special thanks go to Jill Townsend, Marion Maybank, Bobby Murphy, Patrick Duncan, David Burton, Michael Stone, Martha Jolicoeur, South Florida Hunter Jumper Association and Katherine Bellissimo.
Article courtesy Jennifer Wood Media