As students finish their last day of classes today, the equestrian team will be preparing for the most challenging weekend of its young season. The Red travels to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., tomorrow morning for a regular-season show hosted by rival Skidmore College.
After a long competition tomorrow, the Red will proceed to Cazenovia College, where it will compete in the annual Tournament of Champions. As its name indicates, this equestrian show is reserved for elite teams in the country. The second-place Red will co-represent its region with front-runner Skidmore.
“Sunday’s event is a prestigious one and we are very excited to be invited to it,” said head coach Chris Mitchell.
Defending national champion, Mount Holyoake, as well as teams from all over the country, will give the Red a taste of the country’s best horseback riding competition.
The Red will look to rebound from last weekend’s disappointing fourth-place finish — its worst of the season — in Morrisville, N.Y. The squad also hopes to gain some ground on league leader Skidmore going into the two-month layoff. In the current standings, Cornell is just 14 points behind Skidmore.
So far this year, a key difference between the rivals has been each team’s performance in the flat classes. Vicky Wright, Liz Stanish and Michal Adut helped the Throughbreds sweep the flat class event at the Cornell Invitational. Freshman Kristel Keegan’s third-place finish was the Red’s highest in the flat classes. A slight improvement in this specific event could tip the scales in Cornell’s favor.
Individual achievements have highlighted Cornell’s season thus far. Senior tri-captain Laura Acker — already a Regional qualifier — hopes this success will translate into positive momentum going into tomorrow.
“Team spirit is very high right now and we are all very excited about this weekend,” Acker said. “Skidmore always has really nice horses, which relieves some of the stress from competition.”
Sophomore Caroline Shulman, senior Caitilin Kontak, senior Rita Mizrahi and sophomore Amanda Brenske have also qualified for the Regional tournament in their respective events.
Surprisingly enough, the Red has relied on its inexperienced riders for consistent point production. The walk-trot event, in particular, is reserved for riders with less than two years riding experience. Rookie senior Elizabeth Bennett and sophomore Marie Ceranowicz finished first and second place, respectively, earlier this season at the Hartwick Invitational.
“The walk-trotters have really stepped up this year and overcome a lot of pressure,” Acker said.
The Red is only halfway through its regular season. But, after Sunday, Cornell won’t compete again as a team until Feb. 17.
This stretch of time is almost an off-season in itself, so the squad will look to end its first act on a positive note.
“We have a busy weekend coming up but we are really looking forward to it,” Acker said. “It will be a great opportunity to build up some momentum going into break.”