Over the weekend, the equestrian team sent three riders to Centenary College in Hackettstown, N.J., to compete in the Zones competition. Junior Kelsey Craig competed in intermediate flat, sophomore Katie Fink in novice fences and sophomore Charmaine Tan in walk-trot. In order to qualify for Zones, each rider had to earn at least third place in her division at Regionals. The same system is in effect at Zones: the top three riders in each division at Zones advance to Nationals.
This year, Cornell will be sending one rider to the national competition: Charmaine Tan. Tan was the reserve champion in walk-trot at Zones, qualifying her to compete in Lexington, K.Y., where Nationals will be held this May. This is Tan’s first time qualifying for Nationals (as well as Regionals and Zones).
“I’m very, very happy for her,” said head coach Chris Mitchell, “especially because it’s her first time [going to Nationals]. She rode extremely well and I’m very proud. Nationals will be such a confidence boost for Charmaine.”
It’s easy to understand where Mitchell is coming from, since the prestige of this competition is so great. At Nationals, Tan will compete among the top riders out of 8000 in the country.
And it would be an injustice not to credit the results of the other Cornellians who competed at Zones. Fink earned fifth place in novice fences and Craig missed Nationals by one place, earning fourth in intermediate flat. Mitchell said that although the results were not quite what he had hoped for, each girl performed to the best of her ability.
“They went there and performed and represented us well,” Mitchell said of Craig and Fink. “You can’t fault anyone for what happened because we prepared as much as we could and everyone rode phenomenally. They just got beaten and unfortunately that’s part of the sport. I am disappointed for the girls, but I can’t argue with the results.”
Mitchell said it was hard to be disappointed when both riders had accomplished so much already this season, despite the fact that neither will attend Nationals. Going into Zones, Fink and Craig were both in the top 12 of their respective divisions out of 1300 other riders in the region. All three riders will return next year with their eyes set on Nationals –– a goal clearly within their reach.
Now, the Red is preparing for the upcoming Ivy League competition, which is scheduled to take place this Saturday at the Dartmouth Riding Center in Hanover, N.H. Cornell’s biggest competition will be Brown, as well as the host school itself. Mitchell commented that these two Ivies consistently produce very competitive teams.
But that doesn’t intimidate the Red. According to Mitchell, the team is excited rather than nervous for this weekend’s show, especially considering Cornell’s Ivy League record: Cornell is the reigning champion in this competition and the winningest Ivy. Since 1997, the Red has earned six Ivy League titles, five of which were earned under Mitchell.
“I’ve got five [wins] and I’m looking forward to winning another one,” Mitchell said.
Original Author: Katie Schubauer