Four Hunt Seat riders seeking national bids at Zone 4 show
April 5, 2018 | Lynchburg, Va.
More than a month after hosting the most successful Region 4 championships in program history on Feb. 24, Liberty University's Hunt Seat equestrian team has high expectations for its four riders competing in five events at Saturday's Zone 4 show, hosted by Virginia Tech in Greensboro, N.C.
"We're getting really excited for Zones," said sophomore Amber Gayheart, who overcame a case of mononucleosis this semester to qualify in both Intermediate Fences and Novice Flat. "I am very fortunate to be in both, but I enjoy jumping more so Intermediate Fences is definitely what I am looking forward to most."
The Lady Flames racked up four of the eight individual Region 4 championships — two by Gayheart and individual titles by junior Kendall Burdette (Intermediate Flat) and senior Claire Gill (Walk-Trot-Canter) — with Flames junior Ryan Wambolt finishing as Reserve Champion in the Walk-Trot division.
The top two finishers in each class of 10 riders will qualify for the May 3-6 IHSA National Championships in Harrisburg, Pa. Last season, Liz Chenelle became Liberty's first individual qualifier for nationals and she went on to place 10th in the Cacchione Cup as a senior.
Burdette missed two and a half months in the middle of the season recovering from a neck injury sustained over Thanksgiving weekend.
"The Lord's timing is perfect because I got to show for Regionals in February which propelled me to Zones," she said. "Lord willing, I will be able to continue on to Nationals. That's the goal."
Several members of Liberty's Western team, as well as riders from the Hunt Seat team who did not qualify for Zone 4 competition, will travel to Greensboro to support their teammates.
"We are really peaking right now," said junior Erin Mays, Liberty's first Western rider to earn a Nationals bid. "I feel like if there was any opportunity for us to do well, right now is a good time for us."