Think nothing exciting will be happening this weekend? Hold your horses! The women’s equestrian team will be competing in the pivotal Hartwick Invitational – the team’s seventh of eight horse shows this year. The second-place Red is champing at the bit to take on first-place Skidmore and the rest of the field tomorrow.
Head coach Chris Mitchell is enthusiastic about his team’s chances this weekend.
“This is a very important horse show, as we are 15 points behind reigning regional champion Skidmore,” he said. “We traditionally do well, but it’s a difficult horse show because the ring is smaller. It’s going to be a good horse show for us … the following one is at Skidmore and that will be a tough one,” he said. “If we can gain some ground on them this weekend, then we’ll have a good foundation to compete against Skidmore.”
Mitchell was confident that the 15-point deficit would not be too much to surmount with two shows remaining.
“We have 15 points [to make up], seven or eight points a show, we can do that,” he said. “Everyone has to step it up the way they’ve been doing all week.”
The coach also indicated that the results of this meet would have several implications for some of the individual riders.
“For [freshman] Dana Kendrick, [and seniors] Megan Gates and Trudi Gulick, it’s very important, as they are in the top-3 [of the standings for the] Cacchione Cup,” Mitchell said.
The Cacchione Cup is named for Mario Cacchione, the father of IHSA Founder and Executive Director Bob Cacchione. It is awarded to the top individual riders from each region.
Kendrick, currently in second place in the race to compete for the Cacchione Cup, echoed her coach’s enthusiasm.
“I am really excited because our team and coaches have worked really hard to get as far as we have,” she said. “We work really hard as a team and if we keep it up I think we can go all the way to nationals.”
Despite everything riding on this event, Mitchell appeared confident in his team for weekend’s upcoming competition.
“We can expect some great performances out of my two seniors who have been with me all four years [Gates and Mary Slocum],” he said. “My novice girls need to come in and just sweep the whole division, and they can.”
Mitchell also expressed confidence in one of the newest riders on the team, sophomore Jade Doyle.
“Jade is new to our team, so she’s new to competition, but she’s been stepping it up the past two weeks in practice and I think she’s going to be a very big help to this team down the stretch,” he said.
As for the Hartwick Invitational, Mitchell explained the importance of his team’s historical success in Oneonta, N.Y.
“This has always been a friendly place for us. We’ve always done well here and we need to do that again,” Mitchell said. “We need to keep history going.”