The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Equestrian riders going national after success at zones

Senior Grace McEneaney and sophomore Lily Bentley both placed second in their classes and qualified for nationals. (Photos courtesy of Emma Sylvester ’25)

Four individuals on the equestrian team competed this past Sunday at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Zone Three Finals.

Seniors Anna Paulsen and Grace McEneaney, junior Kristina Torkelsen and sophomore Lily Bentley competed at Brookside Show Stable in New Jersey.

Riders had to place in the top two of their class to qualify for nationals, which will take place in North Carolina in May. McEneaney and Bentley both placed second in their respective classes — McEneaney in open fences and Bentley in introductory — and will be the first Lafayette riders to compete at nationals since 2019. 

Paulsen placed fourth out of eight in intermediate fences, and Torkelsen placed sixth out of seven in limit fences and flat.

Zones were held at Centenary University Equine Center for the past two years, but McEneaney noted that the new location offered a different riding experience.

“This year, zones felt a lot more inviting and welcoming than it has in the past two years,” McEneaney said. “I just felt like this year, with it being at a new location, it allowed for other schools to be able to bring their horses, and it added more variety to the classes at zones, and it allowed for a more even playing field which I was really grateful for.”

The majority of the equestrian team was also able to show up to support the individuals competing, which the riders appreciated.

McEneaney and Bentley pose with their ribbons. (Photo courtesy of Emma Sylvester ’25)

“The team is so incredibly supportive,” Bentley said, referencing her appreciation for her team and coach Kelly Poff.

While perhaps being more welcoming, the competition was still “pretty intense,” according to Bentley.

Specifically, there were multiple callbacks and retestings as part of the tight competition.

“There were a lot of tests in open fences and intermediate fences classes because everybody was very close together,” Paulsen said. “People rode really well so [the judge] just had to keep testing until there was someone who stood out.”

“This season has been really hard but also really rewarding,” Paulsen said. “While yes, we didn’t win the region this season, we came second to Delaware Valley. I think that because the competition was so much fiercer, that allowed the individuals to rise to the occasion.”

While the competition was Paulsen’s last ride with the equestrian team, she will be going to North Carolina for nationals individually as a captain. 

“I would say bittersweet, but definitely a high note,” Paulsen said of ending her collegiate equestrian career. “I felt like my round was the best it could be for myself, and I was proud of it at the end of the day.”

For Bentley and McEneaney, the show goes on, with the two now preparing for nationals in May.

“The thing that I need to work on the most is making sure that I don’t get too nervous and I just enjoy the experience that I’m going to be provided at nationals because this will be my last show now for certain,” McEneaney said.

With the team’s season concluded and the end of individual campaigns nearing, nationals present an opportunity to close out on a high note.

“It’s something that I’m really looking forward to, and I know it’s going to be a very bittersweet experience,” McEneaney said. “It’s gonna be emotional regardless of what happens. So I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to represent Lafayette in North Carolina.”

Bentley and McEneaney will compete at Tryon International Equestrian Center on May 3-5.

Disclaimer: Photo Editor Emma Sylvester ’25 is a member of the equestrian team. She did not contribute writing or reporting.

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Benjamin White
Benjamin White, Staff Sports Writer

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