She was eleventh in the Rail Phase and seventh in the Reining Phase. Missouri State senior
Valerie Craft (center, between Bears coaches Dr. Garry Webb and Sue Webb) finished ninth overall out of 22 riders
entered in the individual AQHA Trophy division at 2009 IHSA Nationals.
SURPRISE! THE INDIVIDUAL AQHA TROPHY HEADS EAST OF OHIO AND NORTH OF THE POTOMIC
MURFREESBORO, TN - Back in 1979 the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) formed a
partnership with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). The IHSA hoped to
draw attention to the fact that the organization now offered Western divisions on a
regional basis, while the AQHA wanted to reach out to young riders via new avenues such as
the 12-year-old IHSA at the time.
During a break on the third day of 2009 IHSA Nationals, the IHSA and the AQHA
celebrated their 30 year alliance with a ceremony in the middle of the Tennessee
Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Among those to speak on behalf of the IHSA
were Ohio State Head Coach Ollie Griffith, Middle Tennessee State Head Coach Anne
Brzezicki, and IHSA Founder and Executive Director Bob Cacchione. A sign was
prominently displayed in the winner's circle near the out-gate, simply reading "IHSA &
AQHA 30 Year Partnership."
During that 30 year partnership it came to pass that the AQHA decided to sponsor both
the Western Team Competition and the top prize for the best individual open rider at the
year-end National show. The AQHA Trophy is presented to the high point western team
at Nationals, while the open rider receives the similarly-named AQHA High Point Rider
Trophy. To shorten things slightly, Campus Equestrian could refer to the latter award as
the AQHAHPRT, but instead we choose to call it the individual AQHA Trophy.
|University of Montana Western senior Kristen Gfroerer (on left, with
her Mother) was one of fewer than ten riders to compete in both Western and English classes
at 2009 Nationals. Gfroerer was seventh in the AQHA rail phase and eighth in reining. However
her overall placing worked out to sixth when all rider's scores were combined.
To compete for the Individual AQHA Trophy a rider must first finish the regular season
with the most combined Open Reining and Open Western Horsemanship points in that rider's
region. For example Allison Kralovansky of St. Mary of the Woods College finished the
regular season with a combined 86 points in Zone 9, Region 1, giving her the lead in that
region by a stupendous 40 points. Kralovansky thus automatically qualified to compete for
the AQHA Trophy at Nationals against 21 others, including defending individual AQHA Trophy
winner Katie Morehead. Now a sophomore, Morehead came from behind at the winter break to
finish ahead of her University of Findlay teammate Ryan Sims by a 101-88 total within Zone
6, Region 3. Findlay thus qualified a rider for Nationals in the division for a ninth
From year-to-year usually between four and seven riders are repeat entries in the
Individual AQHA. Five riders who qualified for the 2008 AQHA division made it back in
'09 while 2007 qualifier Lisa Rincon was another with a prior appearance. The Stanford
University senior from Kamuela, Hawaii was one of only two riders who could claim to
have competed at '07 Nationals for the Trophy and was qualified again two years later.
The other repeat entries were United States Military Academy sophomore Randi Cashman,
who finished ninth in Burbank a year earlier; Berry College sophomore Allie Jones and
Florida State University junior Katie Douglass, each of whom was out of the ribbons at
the Los Angeles Equestrian Center (within this division); Morehead, and Ohio State
senior Keith Ceddia, who was competing for the Individual AQHA Trophy a third consecutive
season. Ceddia had been out of the ribbons in Burbank but was the Reserve National
Champion two seasons ago when the competition was held at the Eastern States Exposition
(or the Big E) in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
Four other riders had previous IHSA Nationals experience, though not in the
Individual AQHA division. As a freshman Kralovansky was fifth in individual novice
western horsemanship at Harrisburg. Kralovansky accomplished this while riding for
Purdue University, which she attended for one year before transfering to St. Mary of the
Woods. University of Kentucky junior Molly Peyton had shown for the hunter seat team at
the Big E, placing out of the ribbons in team intermediate over fences. Oregon State
senior Sara Gibson had been very consistant in prior Nationals rides. The Oregon City,
Oregon resident was second in team advanced western horsemanship at Harrisburg and
second in team open western horsemanship at the Big E. And Errolynne Franck of West
Texas A & M University could even claim a previous championship. The senior from
Ephrata, Washington won individual advanced western horsemanship at the LAEC (becoming
one of only two non-Findlay riders to win an undergraduate individual western class at
the '08 National show).
The remaining 12 riders were all to make their IHSA debuts on April 24, 2009. One
was Catherine Howland of Morrisville State College, the only freshman to capture high
point western open rider honors in any region. First-time sophomores were Justin
Eddins of Martin Community College, who edged out 2008 qualifier Kelsey Moody of St.
Andrews Presbyterian College in Zone 4, Region 3 by a 68-66 score; Catie Pabst of
Cal Poly - Pomona, who won out by even less over Amanda Brightwell of the University of
California at San Diego in Zone 8, Region 2, prevailing 71-70; and Jennifer Nagel of
the State University of New York at Oswego, who also survived by only a point. Nagel
bested Katie Mix of Alfred University for the top spot in Zone 2, Region 2 by 64-63.
Juniors making their Nationals debuts were Amanda Peterson of the University of
Minnesota at Crookston, who prevailed in Zone 9, Region 3 by a comfortable 71-43 margin
over Jordanne Blair of South Dakota State; Tricia Marheine of Albion College, who
squeaked out a 77-76 margin over Stephanie Murray of Michigan State in Zone 6, Region 4;
Katie Heller of Bloomsburg University, who was the only rider in the AQHA division to
win a ride-off to get there. Heller and Renae Burks of West Virginia University both
finshed with 81 points, and a ride-off for high point following the final Zone 3,
Region 4 western show on March 15th went to Heller; and Mindy Leach of the University of
Nebraska at Lincoln, whose margin we do not know as we are still hoping to receive the
final Zone 7, Region 1 western points for 2008-09. We are also still hoping for the
final Zone 9, Region 2 western points to learn by how many points Missouri State senior
Valerie Craft prevailed by to qualify. Other first-time seniors were Kristen Gfroerer
of the University of Montana Western; Callie Edie of Murray State University and
Bernadette Loomis of Washington College.
|She was fifth in the rail division on April 24th. Then on April 26th she was fourth in
reining. When the totals were combined West Texas A & M senior Errolynne Franck was fifth in the nation
The schedule of classes for 2009 IHSA Nationals was similar to the one used from 2004
through 2007. The schedule called for opening day, April 23rd, to be all hunter seat.
Then on April 24th the day would start out hunter seat, then alternate between english
classes and western classes. On April 25th there would be four hunter seat classes to
start the day, with the rest all being western. There would also be several awards
presentations that day. The final day of Nationals, April 26th, would be all western and
would include for the first time under a four-day format the Reining phase of the
The very first western riders to participate at 2009 Nationals were the individual
AQHA qualifiers who were part of the first heat of western horsemanship. Essentially the
fifth class of the day on April 24th, Cashman, Nagel, Howland, Heller, Jones, Douglass,
Ceddia, Franck, Rincon, Gfroerer and Gibson made up the first section, with each asked to
walk, jog, lope and eventually line up and attempt the pattern. All eleven
riders were then excused. Following the second section of the Cacchione Cup flat phase the
remaining eleven riders returned for the second section of open western horsemanship.
This section was run exactly like the first, and eventually this group was also excused.
Within two hours the rail scores were posted at one end of the Miller Coliseum. At the
halfway point Nagel was the surprise leader, Kralovansky second, Morehead third, Ceddia
fourth, Frank fifth, Peyton sixth, Gfroerer seventh, Peterson eighth, Gibson ninth and
Unlike the past five IHSA Nationals, the Reining Phase of the Individual AQHA Trophy
was not the final class of the Saturday session, meaning that for the first time since
2003 the winner would be unknown until sometime during the Sunday session. The
Reining Phase was instead the third class out of six held on Sunday the 26th. Also
unlike the past five Nationals the combined scores of Judges Debra Jones Wright and Allen
Mitchels would not be announced following each ride in the reining division, making the
final results for the Individual AQHA much harder to guess at (The combined judge's
scores were not announced for the alumni reining, individual open reining or team open reining as well. It
was never made clear as to why these scores were not announced - Editor). One by one
each of the 22 riders performed the reining pattern the best that they could.
|She won the Individual AQHA Trophy in 2008, but in 2009 University of Findlay sophomore Katie Morehead
(center) finished second in the division. However Morehead would win a pair of western horsemanship divisions at Nationals, with the team open
western blue ribbon clinching the '09 National Championship for the Oilers. From left to right are Brian Bendele from the AQHA, Coach
Clark Bradley, Head Coach Cindy Morehead (also known as Katie's Mom), Katie Morehead, Coach Jake Bowman, LuAnn Ulrich from
the AQHA and IHSA Founder and Executive Director Bob Cacchione.
Finally announcer Justin Ochs asked each of the 22 riders to return to the ring for
the awards. Tenth place went to Peterson. From Rochester, Minnesota the Golden Eagles
freshman had faired much better in the rail phase, placing eighth with a '36' score
compared to thirteenth with a '6' in reining. By contrast Craft moved up into the top
ten based on her reining ride. After having been eleventh in the rail the senior from
Butler, Missouri was seventh in reining, averaging out to ninth. Douglass improved to
eighth. The junior from Bradenton, Florida was sixth in reining, improving radically
from her lower half reining score in the division a year earlier. Peyton had the
exact same averages but in reverse. One of three top ten finishers from the state of
Ohio (from Columbus), Peyton was sixth in rail and tenth in reining. The tiebreaker
went her way and thus the Wildcat was seventh. Gfroerer had been seventh through the
rail, and the senior from Ronan, Minnesota was nearly as good in reining, placing
eighth. However when the scores were combined Gfroerer's average was superior to
seventh or eighth, averaging out to sixth nationally.
Franck had been fifth entering the day, and managed the fourth best reining score.
However the overall placing for Franck remained fifth due to the averages of the
riders Ochs had yet to announce. Fourth went to Kralovansky, who followed up her
second in the rail with a fifth in reining. The Sheridan, Indiana resident was one
of ten in the division who did not start their IHSA career in the open level. Ceddia
was one of the riders who did start out at the open level, and the senior from
Sunbury, Ohio (the same town that hosted 2005 IHSA Nationals at Eden Park) earned the
second best reining score as it turned out. This gave Ceddia third place overall
when his fourth in the rail phase was factored in.
Considering how dominant she had been over one-and-a-half IHSA Nationals up to
this point, some were surprised when Morehead was announced as the reserve champion.
The sophomore from Findlay, Ohio (one of several riders at 2009 Nationals who goes to
school in the same town where they grew up) had the top reining score, which meant
that Morehead was involved in her second tiebreaker in as many days. On April 25th
there had been a tie for fourth in the individual open reining, and because the top
four in that division advance to the NRHA's Derby in Oklahoma City a rare western
ride-off took place, which Morehead won. This time the rider who was first in rail and third
in reining came out on top. From Ransomville, New York, Nagel became only the
second rider ever from a school located in the state of New York to win the
Individual AQHA Trophy. When asked who her trainers are, Nagel said that Oswego
Head Coaches Dan and Jill Bergstresser are it! Like Morehead, who trained with her
Mother Cindy Morehead growing up, the Bergstressers apparently knew Nagel before she
went to college. With Nagel attending a Zone 2, Region 2 school, this meant that
pending the outcome of the western team competition a Zone 2 school produced the top
Western Open Rider, the top Hunter Seat Open Rider (Lindsay Clark of Centenary
College in Zone 2, Region 1 won the Cacchione Cup) and the top Hunter Seat School
(also Centenary) at 2009 Nationals. This marks the first time Zone 2 has ever
managed more than two of the top four prizes at any one IHSA National show, an
important statistic in that the IHSA was originally made up of schools in this
geographic area (in their pre-western days).
|"Rusty" stretches out in front of a Tex Tan Saddle won by S.U.N.Y. - Oswego sophomore
Jennifer Nagel (center, holding blue ribbon). Nagel won the saddle and several trophies for placing first
at 2009 IHSA Nationals in the Individual AQHA Trophy division. Nagel is only the third rider in IHSA history
to attend school east of the Ohio/Pennsylvania border and north of the Potomic river to win the individual
AQHA. Nagel's trainers are Jill (to Nagel's right) and Dan (to Nagel's left) Bergstresser, who coach S.U.N.Y.
- Oswego and who also taught Rusty everything he knows!
Nagel's win snapped Findlay's four-year win streak in the division, which had been
the longest such run for any school since the Individual AQHA Trophy was first awarded in
1982. For the decade Zone 7 claimed four championships (three by Quincy Cahill of
Texas A & M, the other by Kristin Dickerson of Oklahoma State, neither program of
which still competes in the IHSA), Zone 6 four (all Findlay: Jake Bowman in '05,
Travis Womer in '06, Trevor Dare in '07 and Morehead last season), Zone 5 one (Sarah
Elder of Middle Tennessee State, who dominated more than just the individual AQHA
division at '03 Nationals which were also in Murfreesboro) and Zone 2 one via Nagel.
19 different programs can now claim at least one winner in the individual AQHA,
though only ten of those programs currently field an IHSA Western Team.
The mysterious 23rd Western Region: Over the March 21st/22nd weekend we thought
something odd was up when the University of Massachusetts was supposedly earning team
points at the Semifinal show in Findlay, Ohio. We at Campus Equestrian had stated
that Zone 1 was the only Zone within the IHSA that did not hold western competitions
of any kind. However during the 2008-09 regular season a region was formed in
Western Massachusetts, which included not only schools from Zone 1, Region 3 but also
at least one school from Zone 1, Region 1. The University of Massachusetts at
Amherst produced the top team in this region and thus advanced directly to the
Findlay semifinal where they placed eight with five points (We regret that Campus Equestrian does not
have any regular season statistical information from this new region - Editor). This story serves as a
heads-up that Western has now spread to all nine Zones and one can even expect to see
a rider from one of the New England schools in the Individual AQHA Trophy division
starting next May in Lexington.
Explaination of Western Scoring: Following the conclusion of the AQHA trophy
competition, scores for each rider were posted at one end of the Tennessee Miller
Coliseum. The top score a rider can receive in either phase of Individual AQHA
Trophy division is "120." Second would be "105," third "91," fourth "78," fifth
"66," sixth "55," seventh "45," eighth "36," ninth "28," tenth "21," eleventh "15,"
twelfth "10," thirteenth "6," fourteenth "3," and fifteenth "1." Riders who placed
sixteenth or below receive a "0" score for that phase. We list the Rail score
followed by the Reining score and finally the Combined score. Though no judge's
scores were announced over the loudspeakers, it is likely that several riders who
received zeros in one division or another probably received a numeric
score before the official AQHA conversion to 120, 105, 91, etc. was used. The
Rail phase took place on Friday, April 24th while the Reining Phase took place on
Sunday, April 26th. The judges for all Western divisions held during 2009 IHSA
Nationals in Murfreesboro, Tennessee were Debra Jones Wright and Allen Mitchels.
2009 INDIVIDUAL AQHA TROPHY DIVISION RESULTS:
1. Jennifer Nagel, State University of New York at Oswego - 120/91 = 211
2. Katie Morehead, University of Findlay - 91/120 = 211
3. Keith Ceddia, Ohio State University - 78/105 = 183
4. Allison Kralovansky, St. Mary of the Woods College - 105/66 = 171
5. Errolynne Franck, West Texas A & M University - 66/78 = 144
6. Kristen Gfroerer, University of Montana Western - 45/36 = 81
7. Molly Peyton, University of Kentucky - 55/21 = 76
8. Katie Douglass, Florida State University - 21/55 = 76
9. Valerie Craft, Missouri State University - 15/45 = 60
10. Amanda Peterson, University of Minnesota at Crookston - 36/6 = 42
11. Sara Gibson, Oregon State University - 28/1 = 29
12. Catherine Howland, Morrisville State College - 0/28 = 28
13. Lisa Rincon, Stanford University - 3/15 = 18
14. Catie Pabst, Cal Poly - Pomona - 10/0 = 10
15. Allie Jones, Berry College - 0/10 = 10
16. Bernadette Loomis, Washington College - 6/0 = 6
17. Tricia Marheine, Albion College - 0/3 = 3
18. Mindy Leach, University of Nebraska at Lincoln - 1/0 = 1
Callie Edie, Murray State University - 0/0 = 0
Randi Cashman, Centenary College - 0/0 = 0
Justin Eddins, Martin Community College - 0/0 = 0
Katie Heller, Bloomsburg University - 0/0 = 0