It shows a lot about the character of a team when a normal practice is held before the majority of the student body is out of bed.
The equestrian team, which usually practices at 5:45 a.m., translated that dedication into success last year but must deal with the loss of eight seniors going into this season.
Last year, the Red finished in one of the top-4 spots in all of its tournaments and sent three riders to the Zone championships.
The season was capped off with then-senior captain Laura Acker’s seventh-place finish at Nationals.
In college sports, however, success from one season does not always carry over into the following year. The equestrian team will begin this season down eight graduated seniors, including Acker, and half of its riders are new to the equestrian program. However, head coach Chris Mitchell believes that last year’s success will only have a positive effect on his team’s upcoming season.
Mitchell expects the same perseverance and drive to win out of this year’s squad.
“I’m excited,” Mitchell said. “Our goal is to get to Nationals.”
Nationals will be held in California this year, something Mitchell thinks will be an added bonus as the riders can look forward to it as an alternative to the Ithaca weather.
Mitchell identified the key strength to this season’s team as the “unbelievable leadership” exhibited by his three captains — senior Christine Garvey and juniors Dana Kendrick and Caroline Shulman. They have succeeded in setting a tone of hard work and discipline for this season, as this year the team is holding regular strength and conditioning practices for the first time.
“This team has really stepped up,” Garvey said. “Overall, we’ve shown we’re a very strong team and are really prepared to win this season.”
This attitude is echoed in the coaching as well. Mitchell reports that he only asks his team to do one thing.
“[I say] go out there and do everything you can do on that day,” Mitchell said.
As Mitchell expected, the team is already off to a solid start. It earned third place at the Hartwick Show on Oct. 27, coming just four points shy of the winner of the competition, and the team’s rival, Skidmore College, who it will see again later in the season.
The Red will also compete in the Cornell Show this weekend, followed by the Morrisville Show and then the aforementioned Skidmore Show to culminate the 2007 portion of the team’s season.