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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Equestrian finishes first in region again, several riders to compete in Zones

After an impressive performance at regionals, equestrian will go on to compete as a team at Zones. (Photo courtesy of Emma Sylvester ’25)

This past weekend, the equestrian team attended regionals with a record nine riders. Five of these riders will be moving on to the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) Zone 3 Hunter Seat Finals. The Leopards were the Regional High Point team once again this year after accumulating the highest number of combined points from both the fall and spring seasons, outscoring the runner-up team by over 60 points.

“We work really hard throughout the season to get as many people on the team to compete as many times as possible,” junior Grace McEneaney said. “It was really great that we had so many regional qualifiers this year … A lot of personal goals were reached.”

Individuals who won first or second in their class in the regional finals were able to qualify for spots to compete at Zones. Sophomores Shreya Suresh, Ashley Holland, Daisy Wheeler and Zoe Meyer qualified in their divisions. McEneaney qualified in two categories in her division.

Suresh placed first in the introductory category and junior Zubair Ali finished fifth at regionals despite never participating in the sport before coming to Lafayette.

Senior Meredith O’Neill, along with sophomore Harriet Albright and Holland, competed in novice, with Holland finishing second.

“I have seen how hard [Holland] practices, she’s one of the people that rides multiple times a week because she just wants to improve so much, and so for her to do so well at regionals and go to Zones for herself is just amazing,” Wheeler said. “I think it’ll be really gratifying for her to be able to go to Zones.”

Junior Anna Paulsen and Wheeler competed in limit flat, with Wheeler placing first. Meyer competed in both intermediate flat and fences, placing second in the flat.

McEneaney placed first in open flat and second in the open fences category. She was selected to be the region’s rider for the prestigious honor of the Cacchione Cup after being the High Point Champion rider for the 2022-23 season. She will represent Lafayette in the Cacchione Cup Qualifier Class at the Zone Finals.

McEneaney explained that in order to qualify for the Cup, one must be an open rider, which is the highest-level division offered by the IHSA. Whoever gets the most points out of the open riders for their region will move on to Zones to compete in the qualifying class, which is composed of two phases: the flat phase and the fences phase. The results of those two classes are then combined together for an overall placing, with the top three qualifying to compete in the Cup at Nationals.

This is an important opportunity for McEneaney, who was tied with another rider last year to be able to compete for the Cup but was unable to because of a concussion.

“This week, I’m really focusing on staying healthy, well-rested and getting in the saddle as many times as I can to work on maintaining muscle memory,” McEneaney said.

In addition to the individual qualifiers, Lafayette qualified to advance to the IHSA Zone 3 Finals as a team after being the High Point Champion college of the region for the season.

Wheeler said that Lafayette will be competing against teams with extensive funding that have been going to Zones regularly over the years.

“We’re going against teams with really intense and amazing programs,” she said.

Wheeler explained, however, that equestrian can be unique from other sports in that teams actually benefit from having members with a range of skill levels, including those who have never participated in the sport before.

“The way that you win competitions is by having a range of different skills … it really encourages people to ride,” she said. “Riding itself – at least back home – is fairly expensive. It’s not really something that everybody can access. [The Lafayette equestrian program] gives you a really affordable and supportive way of trying something out that you might not have had the opportunity to try at home, which makes the sport just more inclusive and fun.”

Zones will take place this Saturday at Centenary University.

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Caroline McParland, Sports Editor

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