Four Hunt Seat, two Western riders advance out of regions
As first-time host of Saturday's Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Region 4 Championships, Liberty University's Hunt Seat program experienced a tremendously successful competition at the Liberty Equestrian Center.
Lady Flames riders won four of the eight individual regional titles — junior Kendall Burdette (Intermediate Flat), sophomore Amber Gayheart (Intermediate Fences and Novice Flat), and senior Claire Gill (Walk-Trot-Canter) — with Flames junior Ryan Wambolt finishing as Reserve Champion in the Walk-Trot division.
"That was Liberty's best Hunt Seat regional performance in program history," Liberty Head Coach Suzanne Flaig said. "From a mental standpoint, to not only qualify, but to send first-place riders from our region championships gives them confidence in their abilities as they move onto the bigger zone competition."
All four riders will represent Liberty at the Zone 4 Finals hosted by Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., on April 7, with the top two finishers in each division there qualifying for the May 3-6 IHSA National Championships in Harrisburg, Pa.
Sweet Briar College, which overtook Liberty for first place in the final Region 4 regular-season team standings at the Feb. 17-18 show hosted by Mary Washington, had two individual regional champions Saturday while Randolph-Macon and William & Mary riders won the other two divisions.
Meanwhile, in Laurinburg, N.C, the Lady Flames' Western equestrian team had two individual riders qualify for the IHSA Semifinals by bringing home Reserve Champion honors in their respective classes at the Western Regionals hosted by St. Andrews University.
Liberty junior riders Erin Mays and Leah Ofalt competed in Novice Horsemanship with Mays finishing as Reserve Champion.
Lady Flames sophomores Brianna Bass and Maddie Temple and senior Anna Davidson each entered the Intermediate Horsemanship division, the largest event at regionals with two rounds of competition. Bass and Davidson both performed very well in their preliminary rides to qualify for the finals, where Bass had one of her best performances to date to claim Reserve Champion honors.
Both Mays and Bass advance to the March 17-18 IHSA Semifinals in Reedsville, W.Va., where the top four riders from each division qualify for the May 3-6 IHSA Nationals in Harrisburg, Pa.