Hunt Seat team ties for high-point honors at first home show
February 10, 2018 | Rustburg, Va.
Liberty University's Hunt Seat equestrian team tied with Sweet Briar for first-place team honors with 34 points and moved ahead of the Vixens and Randolph-Macon College into first place in the Region 4 point standings at Saturday's first-ever Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) competition hosted by the Liberty Equestrian Center.
"With the added responsibilities of hosting the show, I couldn't be more pleased because it's a big job to do all of this and compete," Liberty Head Coach Suzanne Flaig said. "We feel very blessed to have what we have here. There were a lot of spectators and we tried to show our hospitality and keep everybody out of the rain and I think they enjoyed their stay."
The Lady Flames now have accumulated 200 team points to lead the 11-team overall Region 4 team standings over Sweet Briar (196), Randolph-Macon (195), and Mary Washington (187).
Saturday's reserve high-point team champion was Mary Washington with 33 points, ahead of fourth-place RMC (28).
"It was close until the end," Flaig said, noting that a few of Liberty's riders were out with illnesses, giving others opportunities. "We have eight different divisions that we compete in so you don't really know what the team outcome is until the very end. Fortunately, we have enough depth to stay competitive through all the levels."
Junior Ryan Wambolt, the Flames' only men's competitor who scored seven points in the Walk-Trot-Canter, and sophomore April Simmonds, who earned four points in the Open Over-Fences division and two points in the Open Flat class, were Liberty's highest-scoring individual riders in Saturday's show.
"Individually, we had two additional riders qualify for regionals, (sophomore) Mallory Zodda in Walk-Trot and (senior) Hannah Peterson in Novice Flat," Flaig said, noting that brings Liberty's total regional qualifiers to eight, joining Wambolt (Walk-Trot), Amber Gayheart (Novice Flat and Intermediate Over-Fences), Kendal Burdette (Intermediate Flat), Zoe Leppke (Novice Over-Fences), and Mary Clair Gill (Advanced Walk-Trot-Canter).
The Liberty Equestrian Center will also host the individual Region 4 Championships on Feb. 24-25.
The Lady Flames can clinch first place in the regular season and the lone team bid to the Zone 4 competition at this Saturday's and Sunday's final Region 4 show hosted by Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va. The top two teams in the zonal competition will qualify for the May 3-6 IHSA National Championships in Harrisonburg, Pa.
"The zone is stronger than our region, because it goes all the way down to North Carolina and we have Randolph College and Bridgewater and Hollins, lots of storied equestrian programs with a lot of rich history," Flaig said.