Hunt seat qualifies two for Zone; Western third in Region 3
March 1, 2015 | Chatham, Va.
Liberty University sophomores Elizabeth Chenelle and Morgan Murphy, the Lady Flames' hunt seat team's first two individual qualifiers for Saturday's Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Region 5 event, hosted by Averett University in Danville, Va., took two more giant leaps by advancing to the IHSA Zone Finals.
Chenelle earned Regional Champion honors in Intermediate over fences while Murphy was the Reserve Champion in Beginner walk trot as both qualified for the March 28 show at Goucher (Md.) College, located about a half-hour's drive from where Liberty Head Coach Caroline Trexler grew up.
"Liz is one of our more accomplished riders," Trexler said. "She placed very consistently last year in a very challenging Region (2) and continued that this year."
Her lowest placing this season was third. Meanwhile, this was Murphy's first season on the team.
|Morgan Murphy qualified for the IHSA Zone Finals in Beginner walk trot..|
"She had a minimal amount of experience, but she is very talented and consistent, which enabled her to be so successful," Trexler said.
If Chenelle or Murphy place in the top two in their categories at the Zone Finals, they would go on to the April 30 IHSA hunt seat Nationals in Massachusetts.
Lady Flames junior Courtney Kerns was named the region's most improved rider, as voted on by all of the coaches. Kerns didn't compete in Liberty's first couple shows, but earned Reserve High Point performer at a show hosted by High Point University last semester, and was the High Point rider at the last regular-season show Feb. 21 at Virginia Tech.
As a team, the Lady Flames finished sixth out of 11 schools in the Region 5 year-end team placing and was given the Ascero Memorial Sportsmanship award, presented by Virginia Tech.
"To recognize our team in such an encouraging way for having such a positive influence on our region was an absolute honor," Trexler said. "We really love this new region and are blessed to be a part of it. It was tremendous to feel so welcome and at home and appreciated."
Liberty's first-year Western team, meanwhile, had the opportunity to co-sponsor and host the last regular-season show on Saturday and the Region 3 competition on Sunday at the Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex in Chatham. Kaitlyn Quesinberry finished first in the Beginner category on Saturday to become the team's first regional qualifier.
"To be able to qualify a rider for regionals in our first year was pretty exceptionally challenging," Trexler said, noting Liberty had three other riders who missed qualifying by one point — sophomore Kayla Sims, who placed second in Intermediate 2 on Saturday, junior Micah Armbrust (second in Beginner), and Avonlea Kisner (second in Advanced), who all accumulated 35 points on the season.
Those points will roll over to next year, when they should qualify for regionals in their first shows of the fall season.
Quesinberry finished fifth in her class at the Region 5 event. As a team, in the regular season regional standings, Liberty placed third out of nine schools, behind only St. Andrews and North Carolina State.
"That was incredible considering we had two less riders than everyone else contributing to our point total," Trexler said. "That was an absolutely tremendous accomplishment."