Riders vie for national competition spot

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

In only its second year of competition, the western equestrian team finished second place in their region in total team points.

“We have a very competitive squad. I expected our team to finish first in the region,” Head Coach Megan McGee said.

SDSU led the region in points during the fall semester, but failed to hold on to the lead. The team’s first place standing for part of the season gives McGee hope and confidence that next year the squad can capture the title and compete as a team at the national competition. She said she expects her team to win the region next year.

Equestrian riders compete and place individually, but their points count toward a cumulative team score. Each rider competes in individual classes based on her ranking, which is based on her experience, ensuring that riders square off versus competitors of similar experience. When the riders begin college, the rankings are based on their experience before college. During college, riders accumulate points based on where they place in competition and move up in rankings as they place higher at competitions. The equestrian team receives points based on where the riders placed.

All of the competitions that count toward the cumulative team score are finished, but individual riders still have the opportunity to advance to the national competition.

Last weekend, western riders Molly Seidel and Kelsey Likness competed at the IHSA Super Zone Championships at the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. Neither rider placed high enough to advance to the national competition. Seidel, a sophomore from Sioux Falls, finished fifth in advanced horsemanship, while Likness failed to place in Open Horsemanship.

Kaylee DeVries and Allison Carie are the final two competitors for the equestrian team this season. The two riders will participate in English competition at the IHSA Zone 9 Finals on April 1 in Chicago, Ill.

If either rider places first or second in her category, she will move on to national competition during the first week of May.

McGee believes both riders have a chance to do well.

“They’re both very competitive riders,” she said. “They’re very, very well prepared. My expectations are very high that both of them will be able to move on.”

Even though McGee is confident in her riders’ abilities, she said sometimes it comes down to luck. The horses the competitors will ride are drawn at random, and according to McGee, the riders have virtually no time to prepare with the animal.

McGee said having riders qualify for zone finals assists the team. The experience the riders bring back from the competition benefits the entire team.

Carie, a sophomore from Fairbanks, Alaska, said this is the biggest competition she has ever participated in.

“I hope to do well … I feel very prepared,” she said.

#1.883571:1448942411.jpg:equestrian1.jn.jpg:The SDSU Equstrian team will participate in the English competition April 1 in Chicago. Riders can qualify for national competition at the event. The national competition is held during the first week of May. :#1.883570:627913213.jpg:equestrianalison.jn.jpg:Allison Carie will be competing in the English competition at the IHSA Zone 9 Finals in Chicago, Ill., April 1.: