December 2, 2008

Team Chemistry Drives Equestrian

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The equestrian team is off to a strong start this season, building some momentum that it hopes to carry through to Regionals in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on March 28.
Much of this momentum was built when the Red finally got over the hump of beating Skidmore. The win reversed what had been a one-sided rivalry for over a year — a trend the team aims to continue over the course of the next several months.
“Our goal is, and always has been, to win Regions,” said head coach Chris Mitchell. “[Skidmore] has been the Regional champion for the last eight years, but it is time for a change.”
In comparing this year’s team to last year’s, Mitchell describes his current squad as being “way more cohesive … the chemistry is probably one of the best teams I’ve had of recent.”
Mitchell credited captains Dana Kendrick, Caroline Shulman and Heather Sherman with providing the team’s character.
“They have instilled team spirit, team morale and lead by example,” said Mitchell. “They are doing the work with [the other girls], they are right next to them, winning with them and losing with them.”
The team will also benefit from the contributions of its rookies, namely freshman Justine Gentilini and sophomore Scotty Weber, as well as from the overall consistency of riders like sophomores Kelsey Craig and Georgina Melbye.
“We have a really great group of rookies this year … strong riders [who] are helping carry our team,” said junior Zoe Samuel. “This year everyone has the talent to bring to the show, and everyone has potential to do really well, and that didn’t always happen last year.”
Thus far this season, the Red has not been had to rely on one particular event to carry it to the top of the standings, as every week a different division seems to rise to the occasion.
“[One day] we do great in Open Fences, and then the next day we’ll do great in the Intermediate Flat,” Mitchell said. “The Open and the Novice have really stepped up, as well as our Walk-Trotters.”
The team will travel to Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, on Dec. 6 to compete in the Tournament of Champions, which Samuel said “should be exciting because we get to compete against teams that we don’t normally compete against, so we get to see where we fall in the sense of not just our region, but the nation.”
“That’s going to be a really good tournament, they have some big teams coming in,” Mitchell said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”
Although the Red’s primary focus is on putting an end to Skidmore’s eight-year dominance, the team is not losing sight of its other competitors.
“Our region is just getting so much stronger that other schools that used to not be so much of a threat are now becoming a threat,” said junior co-captain Heather Sherman.