The equestrian team kicks off its 2006-07 campaign tomorrow when it travels to Oneonta, N.Y., for the annual Hartwick Invitational. The team will look to rebound after a season in which it earned a reserve championship at Regionals and finished second at the Ivy championships by only one point to rival Brown.
With the departure of Megan Gates ’06 and Lydia Shute ’06, senior Laura Acker and sophomore Candace Berne will look to pick up the slack for the Red this season. Berne was a reserve champion at Ivies last season. Along with Acker and Berne, the rest of the team will have a chance to show what it is capable of in the squad’s first meet of the year.
“I’m excited like I am at the start of every year,” said head coach Chris Mitchell. “Hartwick is a friendly place for us. We always seem to put out a good showing.”
The squad, which always seems to be prepared for the yearly October season opener at Hartwick’s Hunters Rein Stable, comes in after placing third at last year’s fall contest. The team, which will compete against over 10 schools in the invitational, finished only three points behind Skidmore (41) and one point behind Morrisville (39).
The team hopes to continue building on last season’s success, as five of last season’s riders were freshmen and return to the lineup. To make matters even more interesting, seven riders will perform on Saturday for the first time in their careers. That is something Mitchell and the squad has been looking forward to all fall.
“Right off the top of my head, I think I’ve got seven rookies showing so it’s all a learning curve with them,” Mitchell said. “We try to put them in those live situations but it’s never the same in practice as it is with the real thing. Still, we’re looking forward to it.”
And although a majority of the team looks to be young, it shouldn’t seem to be something that hinders the squad’s ability.
“We’ve put together a strong team,” said senior Rita Mizrahi. “We’re all looking forward to Saturday. Our goal is to win Regionals this year. We always seem to come in a close second at the end of every year so we want to get over the hump this season. With the newcomers we have this year, that’s something we think we can achieve.”
If the team can jump out to a strong start tomorrow and sustain that level of performance throughout the year, a regional championship is something the squad can set its sights on. With that goal in mind, starting off the season tomorrow is just as important as finishing strong.
“We didn’t close as strong as I wanted us to last year,” Mitchell said. “We want to win our region like we always do. It’s a long season, but if you’re towards the top at the end of the season you’ve definitely got a shot at it. The season has to start sometime. Might as well be now.”