The Mary Washington equestrian team ended the month of March with a bang, winning the regional championship and qualifying five individual riders for the Zone Championships on Sunday, April 10.
Seniors Mary Ryan Richardson and Isabel Moore, junior Emilia Sanchez and sophomores Haley Cook and Christine Cook were the qualifying riders, with Richardson, Moore, Sanchez and Haley Cook placing first in their events, while Christine Cook placed second.
Richardson took first in the intermediate over fences class, Haley Cook finished first in the intermediate flat class, Sanchez notched a first-place finish in the novice over fences class, and Moore placed first in the walk-trot-canter class. Christine Cook finished second in the novice and advanced flat class.
Richardson is cognizant of the sacrifice necessary to bring success at the next level, but excited for the team.
“Nationals are right in the middle of graduation (May 5-8), which is a bummer,” Richardson said. “But I know the seniors have all made the choice to go to Nationals when that happens. At this point in the season, we have definitely done what we aimed to do, which is win the region.”
Moore echoed this mixture of focus and excitement.
“Practice is the most important part,” Moore said. “We’re all putting a lot into our practices this week. A lot of dedication, and we’re supporting each other a lot. The team is pumped to win regionals this year. We’re ready to kick some ass.”
The team is led by 1999 UMW alumna Teresa Seay, who was also a member of the equestrian team while a student at the university. Seay joined the team as head coach at the beginning of the fall semester in 2009.
“Teresa has been awesome,” Moore said. “She’s really driven us to do the best that we can. We’re a great team of competitors, we motivate each other, and we really owe it all to Teresa.”
The team has found success with an even mix of youthful exuberance and veteran leadership, boasting six seniors, one graduate student, four juniors, nine sophomores, and six freshmen.
Qualifying for the zone championships was no easy task, and the competition will only become fiercer when the tournament begins.
“Zones is where things get really competitive,” Richardson said. “Individuals must place in the top two out of very high numbers of competitors. You have to get 35 points, which if done perfectly, is five first-place finishes.”
In zone competition, a first-place finish earns seven points, second place earns six points, third earns five points, fourth nets the rider four points, the fifth-place rider earns three points, and so on.
Moore is hopeful for the team’s chances in the zone competition, Nationals, and beyond.
“We’ve got every age group covered going into zones,” Moore said. “We have really strong seniors and a great incoming freshman class. There’s great potential for the team next year.”
The zone championships will take place at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Va. this Sunday.