With its first postseason show now complete, the equestrian team has taken its first step along the road to nationals. Although the Red had already been crowned the regional champions and is therefore qualified to send a team to Zones, four additional riders were able to qualify as individuals at the March 17 regional competition. According to head coach Chris Mitchell, Cornell will be sending more riders to Zones as individuals than any other team in its region.
“It was a very very exciting and good day,” he said.
Senior Bronwyn Scrivens was the first to qualify, placing first in open flat and second in open fences. In addition to being the high point, or Cacchione, rider for the region which guarantees her a spot to compete at nationals, Scrivens also won the titles of open flat champion and open fences reserve champion. Senior co-captain Katie Fink also competed in the open flat class, placing second. She is the open flat reserve champion, which advances her to Zones.
“I was denying it to myself,” Fink said. “I think I was pretty nervous going in and it was kind of a rush of emotions. There is a lot of buildup and anxiety that goes along with it.”
The other two riders to qualify for Zones were freshman Georgiana de Rham and senior Amanda Fan. De Rahm won the intermediate fences class, while Fan won the walk trot class. Fan came to Cornell just a year ago with little riding experience, but today she is a regional champion. Fan said that she felt “amazed and elated” upon winning her class.
“I never thought I would come this far,” she said.
In order to qualify for Zones as an individual, one must finish first or second at regionals; therefore, third place is a tough position to be in.
“Third is so bittersweet,” Fink said. “You did well enough to be third, but not well enough to go to Zones.”
Junior co-captain Emily Kowalchik was one of the Red’s two riders who just missed the cut-off for Zones. However, since regionals is the only purely individual competition of the season, Kowalchik is looking forward to competing at Zones as part of the team.
“The nice thing is that now we can refocus and go back to what we do best — which is competing as a team.”
Seven riders will have the opportunity to compete as a team at Zones, which gives the squad 11 total riders at the show, according to Mitchell. Although the Red is accustomed to competing as a single unit, the individual competition at regionals did not prevent the teammates from supporting each other.
“Even though teammates were competing against each other, I didn’t feel at any point that there was a rivalry — that’s not what we’re all about,” Kowalchik said. “There was no love lost for sure.”
In addition to competing at regionals, the squad faced the challenge of hosting the competition. Since less riders compete at regionals than at the regular season shows, this show was much smaller in scale. After hosting two regular shows earlier in the season, the Red was knew the ins and outs of running a show.
“The show ran really well, the horses were phenomenal and everyone did a great job,” Mitchell said.
“The team pulled together beautifully to get everything done that needed to be done and support one another,” Fink said.
Now that regionals is over, team members said that they are looking forward to competing at Zones. This year, Zones will take place at Skidmore — the Red’s former regional rival.
“I’m actually very excited to go back to [Skidmore],” Mitchell said. “The horses will be wonderful and they’ll be prepared correctly and ready to go and that’s what I’m excited about.”
Although Skidmore is a very tough competitor, since the team was formerly part of Cornell’s region, the Saratoga Springs campus is not unfamiliar terrain.
“We’ve beat [Skidmore] at home before, so we are very optimistic about our chances this year,” Kowalchik said.
It has been two years since the Red has gone head-to-head with the Thoroughbreds, according to Fink.
“I’m really excited to prove ourselves as a team,” she said. “We competed against them for so long. … It’ll be nice to go back and show them what we’re made of.”
The road ahead may appear tough, but after coming off a strong season, the team is optimistic about what lies in its future, according to Mitchell.
“They did a great job [at regionals] … and they should be proud of themselves, as I am,” he said.