April 21, 2006

Red to Ride for Ivy Crown

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The equestrian team came into last year’s Ivy League championships in Hanover, N.H., looking to take home its third-consecutive Pewter Cup, given to the show’s winner. Instead, Brown rode away with the trophy and the Red was sent packing with a fourth-place finish. This Sunday at home, Cornell will get a chance to take and return the cup to what head coach Chris Mitchell feels is its proper place.

“We want the cup back,” Mitchell said. “There’s a championship cup and it’s not here right now, and it needs to come back to East Hill.”

Having failed to advance any riders to the IHSA nationals, Sunday will be the Red’s last show of the year. With all of the Ivy teams, except Harvard, competing at the championship, the show will be of smaller magnitude than most of the Red’s competitions this year and will allow over 20 riders to compete for the Cornell.

“I think we have a chance for a strong showing everywhere. I’m really excited about the Ivies [and] the girls are really excited about the Ivies,” Mitchell said. “I think all of our divisions are extremely competitive, even those [riders] who have moved up to a new division.”

While the Red will saddle many familiar faces for the event – including the dominant open fences and open flats trio of freshman Dana Kendrick, senior tri-captain Megan Gates and classmate Trudi Gullick – the championship will also see its fare share of new or unfamiliar faces. Freshman Alyse Mizia will make her Cornell debut, competing in intermediate flats, while sophomore Anna Flam will also be showing for the first time in the novice flats division.

“There’s going to be some nerves, obviously, going into the competitive ring,” Mitchell said. “But I think some of the senior athletes and the veteran athletes are going to help, calm them down and get them to do what they need to do.”

Junior Rita Mizrahi, who Mitchell had been saving to be a team rider had Cornell won its region and advanced to zones, will be riding in just her second show of the year. In 2005 Mizrahi placed third at the IHSA nationals in the walk trot division.

“She comes out and she does well every time she horse shows,” Mitchell said.

Traditionally, Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown have been among the strongest Ivy equestrian programs according to Mitchell. However, Columbia has shown signs of joining their ranks. The Lions edged the Red for third place at last year’s championships and won its IHSA region this year.

“When we saw [Columbia] at zones they weren’t very strong, but obviously they were able to sustain something during the year, so we do have to watch out for them,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell expects the bonus of riding at home on familiar horses in front of friends and family, will give his team a considerable advantage. In the seven years Mitchell has coached the equestrian team, Cornell has lost only two home shows.

“We do not lose at home,” Mitchell said. “We really stress that, and a lot of the girls feel really strongly about that. … I truly believe that everyone will step up to the challenge and that the cup will come back to East Hill where it belongs.”

Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Assistant Sports Editor