March 2, 2010

Equestrian Defeats Nemesis Skidmore

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Every team has its nemesis. The Yankees have the Red Sox. The Browns have the Bengals. The Bruins have the Canadiens. As in all sports, the equestrian team has its archrival –– the team for whom it feels just that much better to beat. For Cornell, that team is Skidmore, the eight-time Regional Champion, who, until this weekend, was undefeated this season. However, the Red (43 points) stole the show from the Thoroughbreds on Saturday, not only beating its archrival by one point, but doing so on Skidmore’s own turf.

Twelve other teams competed at the Van Lennep Riding Center on Saturday and the Red had been in the middle of the pack until the very end when it managed to spring ahead of the host school. After having lost to Skidmore last weekend at Cornell’s home show, the team wanted to give the Thoroughbreds a taste of their own medicine. And it did. Head coach Chris Mitchell said the recent loss to Skidmore was extra motivation for the team.

“I told the girls in the beginning ‘let’s make sure we leave a mark’ and we sure did,” Mitchell said.

“It’s always wonderful to win a show and it was even better to beat Skidmore in their own house, especially having lost to them so closely last week,” Craig said.

The Red started off the day with a win in the open fence event by senior Brooke Cagwin. Classmate Nicole Finazzo earned fifth, while senior captain Heather Sherman rode to second. Performances by Cagwin and Finazzo qualified them for Regionals.

Sophomore Caroline Rusk also qualified for Regionals in her event –– the novice fences. Rusk tied teammate Samantha Druxbury for second, while freshman Anne Elise Creamer earned the blue ribbon. Creamer was the show’s Reserve High Point Rider of the Day. In the individual fences, freshman Emily Webster took first while Kelsey Craig was sixth. Webster and Craig rode again in the intermediate flat, where they both earned first place. With this win in fences, Craig qualified for Regionals.

“It was really exciting that I qualified this show,” Craig said. “I had a good day and it was a great day for the team as well.”

In advanced walk-trot-canter, junior Lizzie Briggs earned first and qualified for Regionals while senior Ji Min Kim came in at second. The day ended with the beginner walk-trot-canter when freshman Joan Kim had her best ride ever and came in first, ensuring a victory for the Red.

“They were just on top of their game and they never let up,” Mitchell said of the team’s performance on Saturday. “We were in the middle of the pack after the morning but we just kept grinding it out and we got the win.”

The Red will be back in action this Saturday, when it will compete at the Hartwick Invitational ––– the final show of the regular season. This will be the last chance to qualify for Regionals. Having already qualified in the intermediate fences, Craig is going for intermediate flat, too.

“This is a really important show coming up,” Craig said. “It’s the last shot for a lot of the girls to qualify. There’s no back-up plan. This is it.”

The Hartwick show will be the third competition in a row for Cornell. According to Mitchell, Cornell traditionally does well at this venue and this time the team will be bringing some of its own horses, which definitely works in the Red’s favor. Mitchell explained the girls’ physical and mental exhaustion after so many intense weeks of competition but said that the Red is motivated enough to eek out another victory this weekend.

“We’re on a roll. We had a great home showing last weekend, we had a great showing at Skidmore, and we’re looking for another great showing at Hartwick,” Mitchell said.

Original Author: Katie Schubauer