Western team leaps from fifth to third in region over weekend
January 31, 2016 | Buies Creek, N.C.
The men's and women's western squads of Liberty University's equestrian team traveled to Campbell (N.C.) University over the weekend and enjoyed their best performances to date, earning Reserve Champion Western Team honors for the first time.
The Flames and Lady Flames scored their highest combined score ever, finishing just two points behind North Carolina State, which leads this year's Zone 4 western standings in a neck-and-neck race with perennial champion St. Andrews.
Liberty's record showing moved it from fifth place to third in the standings, ahead of Martin Community College and Virginia Tech, with one regular-season show remaining, Feb. 7 at second-place St. Andrews.
First-year head coach Jim Arrigon took 11 riders to Campbell to compete in 24 classes, and they garnered seven blue ribbons for first-place performances and eight red ribbons for second-place showings.
|Lady Flames riders Avonlea Kisner (left) and Kayla Sims model their Open Horsemanship and Champion Rider awards.|
Individually, Lady Flames sophomore Avonlea Kisner won the Open Horsemanship award both days.
"Open is the highest horsemanship level, and, until a few months ago, Liberty had never even had an open rider so this is Liberty's first-ever blue ribbon in the Open division," Arrigon said.
Kayla Sims, Liberty's junior team captain, also won a section of Open Horsemanship and placed second in the Open Reining, becoming the Lady Flames first Champion Rider award-winner.
Junior Becca Oldham and freshman Michal White, Liberty hunt seat riders competing in their first-ever western shows, both captured blue ribbons in their respective divisions. Amber Dixon also landed a first-place finish while fellow freshmen Hannah Peterson and Leah Ofalt and sophomore Hope Barker each received red ribbons for second-place showings in their respective classes.
Senior men's team captain Micah Armbrust finished first Saturday and second Sunday in his first full weekend after moving to a higher division last fall.
Next up for Liberty, the men's and women's hunt seat teams will be back in action Feb. 20-21 in a show hosted by Virginia Tech.