After placing seventh in Alumni Western horsemanship, 2007 University of Kentucky graduate Megan Carter
(pictured) faired even better in Alumni Reining. Carter was part of one of the most memorable Alumni Classes at an IHSA
Nationals event ever.
CARTER GRABS THE HEADLINE WHILE ADAMS, DESHPANDE PROVIDE DELAWARE WITH FIRST-EVER IHSA NATIONALS INDIVIDUAL WINS
RALEIGH, NC - One thing unique to the IHSA is that the organization allows riders
who have graduated the opportunity to compete in official classes at their shows.
Riders in the four alumni divisions (alumni flat, alumni fences, alumni western
horsemanship and alumni reining) need to earn at least 28 points in a division during
the regular season to qualify for Regionals. From there riders must place inside the
top two to qualify for Zones and/or Semifinals. At Zones riders must once again
finish inside the top two to advance to Nationals while the larger Semfinals advance
the top four to Nationals in each division. As dumb luck would have it, all but one
of the alumni classes at Semifinals would eliminate anyone. Four or fewer alumni
riders qualified to compete in each division at the Harrington, Delaware and Ocala,
Florida Semifinals, while the Findlay, Ohio Semi did feature an alumni western
horsemanship class with more than four participants.
At every IHSA Nationals show since 1998 there have been four alumni classes. In
the current decade three of the four alumni classes took place during the Saturday
session, with alumni flat having the honor of being the final hunter seat class of
any kind during the current season and alumni reining being the final class of the
The only class which takes place on a different day is Alumni Over Fences, which
since 2005 has led off the Friday session (the second day of the four day event) all
but once. Save for Zone 6 (where not one region held enough hunter seat alumni
classes for any riders to be eligible) every zone had two riders entered in the
Alumni Fences class which took place on May 4th at the Hunt Horse Complex in
Raleigh, North Carolina. Most remarkably eight of the 14 riders entered had
coincidentally qualified to compete in alumni fences at 2011 IHSA Nationals,
including two-time champion Kelley Mallery. A 1994 graduate of Hollins when that
school was still a college, Mallery won the 2010 IHSA Nationals alumni fences class
with her maiden name (Douglas) and proceeded to win the same class a year later
after marrying Mr. Mallery. Could she become only the second rider in IHSA history
to win the same alumni class three years in a row? (former Fairleigh Dickinson rider
Rick Raunch won alumni flat from 1976 through 1978 though the first two seasons
the division may have been a combined alumni flat/fences class prior to two separate
divisions being created for 1978 Nationals. Campus Equestrian is researching this
matter - Editor).
|University of Delaware Head Coach Bryan Bradley (on left) had seen his riders win team classes
at IHSA Nationals but never an individual one. Bradley can cross the latter off his list as not one but two former
University of Delaware students won alumni classes. 2011 graduate Shilpa Deshpande (on right) is the new Alumni
Western Horsemanship champion.
In yet another coincidence 2009 State University of New York at Albany graduate
Rebecca Danz had the honor of going first as she had done one year earlier (the
horse draw dictated that the horse she selected go first each time). In 2011 at
at the Kentucky Horse Park Danz had received a score of '77' from the judges and
eventually placed third. This time around Judges R. Scot Evans and Chrystine
Tauber gave Danz a combined score of '79' to start the morning in Raleigh. For at
least the next three rides Danz remained the leader until Mallery had her turn.
After having received an '85' in 2010 and an '82' in 2011 Mallery pulled into the
lead with a score of '81.' At least two rides later Mallery would fall out of the
top spot. Krista Steinmetz, a 2005 Purdue University graduate who rode at
Nationals several times as an undergraduate made her Nationals alumni debut a
memorable one with a score of '83.' What most in attendance did not know is that
Steinmetz competed in the class with a herniated disc in her back. The former
Boilermaker and current hunter seat coach at St. Mary of the Woods College was
temporarily in front. One of the final four riders to compete was 2010 University
of Delaware rider Nicole Adams. From Flemington, New Jersey when she was an
undergrad, Adams had what appeared to be the nicest round of anyone but it was not
until announcer Kenn Marash passed along Evans' and Tauber's combined score of
'84' that the audience was assured Adams had the lead. The remaining rides did
change the top three. As had been the case all but once a day earlier Evans and
Tauber decided against further testing, which meant anyone who had written down
the combined judge's scores knew the outcome before the awards were presented.
Tenth place went to Sarah Bechtel, a Lebanon Valley College graduate who was
one of three riders in the division to have earned her degree in 2010. Bechtel,
who was seventh a year earlier, received a score of '68.5.' Though she did not
ride in the division at Nationals one year earlier, 2008 University of
Connecticut graduate Amy Kriwitsky was sixth in the division at 2010 Nationals.
In 2012 Kriwitsky was ninth with a score of '69.' Former University of Richmond
rider Sarah Thompson was eighth. A December 2009 graduate, Thompson had been
reserve champion behind Mallery in Lexington one year earlier but only received
a score of '71' at the Hunt Horse Complex on this day. 2005 Kutztown University
graduate Chrystal Coffelt-Wood was seventh. One year earlier Coffelt-Wood had
been sixth with a score of '73.' This time she received a '72' (very unusually
Coffelt-Wood wore the same number, 163, at both 2011 and 2012 Nationals).
Former Murray State University rider Ashley Eggersdorfer had the honor of being
the only 2011 graduate in the alumni flat division at Nationals. Likely the
youngest rider in this class Eggersdorfer was sixth with a score of '74.' With
all the coincidences there is room for one more: 2000 Tufts University graduate
(and current Tufts Coach) Katie Schaaf earned a jumping score of '75' at both
2011 and 2012 Nationals. However this time Schaaf was only fifth instead of
fourth as was the case in Lexington. Schaaf was also one of four current IHSA
coaches competing in the division (joining Steinmetz, Coffelt-Wood and Kriwitsky.
Coffelt-Wood coaches Penn State - Berks Campus while Kriwitsky coaches Trinity
College). The rest of the top four were Danz (fourth), Mallery (third),
Steinmetz (reserve champion) and Adams. Though the University of Delaware was
National Champion hunter seat team in 1997 and though several of their riders had
won team classes over the years Adams is the first rider associated with the
University of Delaware team to win an individual class at Nationals in program
While more than half of the alumni fences riders had somehow survived
Regionals and Zones two years in a row the Alumni Equitation on the Flat held a
day later contained only three holdovers from 2011 Nationals. Julia Turner, a
2010 University of Southern California graduate was ninth in 2011. Joanna
Russell, a Truman State University rider who used up all eight semesters of
eligibility prior to the 2010-11 season, was out of the ribbons a year ago. The
third returning rider has quite a history. 1989 Virginia Intermont College
graduate Ashton Phillips first showed alumni at Nationals in 1994 while competing
in what was then Zone 2, Region 1. After a few seasons away from the alumni
ranks Phillips returned in 2000-01, this time within Zone 3, Region 2. Phillips
only reached Zones that season but within the new Zone 3, Region 4 Phillips
began a streak of IHSA Nationals alumni appearances which currently stands at 11
straight. Since 2002 Phillips has competed in at least one alumni class at Nationals each
season, and since he no longer shows in the alumni fences division the streak of
alumni flat rides at Nationals now stands at ten. Phillips was second in alumni
flat at both 2003 and 2004 Nationals, each of which took place in Murfreesboro,
Tennessee. Despite more consecutive IHSA Nationals appearances than any other
rider in history the blue ribbon has eluded Phillips (who last jumped at
Nationals in 2007). It should
be noted that one person who took lessons from Phillips while enrolled at Drew
University is Sandra Sayre, who holds the all-time IHSA record for most wins at
Nationals in alumni classes (three wins on the flat and two over fences between
1998 and 2006). Though Sayre has stopped riding alumni Phillips is still at it,
and a small number in attendance were rooting for him to finally take home the
|The day before Deshpande won Alumni Horsemanship, former teammate Nicole Adams (on
horse) won Alumni Over Fences. Every hunter seat class winner received a Collegiate Saddle, which Coach
Bradley holds on the far left.
The final hunter seat class of the 2011-12 season saw each rider walk, trot and
canter in each direction. There wasn't too much else asked of the alumni nor
were any riders excused so that only a select few could be tested. Eventually
everyone was lined up and the ribbons were announced. Erica Palmisano, who
rode for Sweet Briar College during the 2007-08 season but did not graduate
until 2011, was tenth in her IHSA Nationals alumni debut. Yet another former
IHSA rider who has joined the coaching ranks was ninth. Nikki Layne, a 2009
Johnson & Wales University graduate who is now the assistant coach at Becker
College, earned ninth place in what was also her IHSA Nationals alumni debut.
Emily Rosen, a 2011 West Chester University graduate who was second to
Phillips at Zone 3 Zones was eighth in her IHSA Nationals debut. Former
Trojan Turner did what few alumni did at 2012 Nationals: She improved on her
score from the year before. Turner was ninth in Lexington in alumni flat and
moved up to seventh here. 2010 Murray State graduate Samantha Erwin was
making her 'hunter seat' alumni debut at Nationals. From Villa Hills,
Kentucky when she was an undergrad, Ervin won Alumni Western Horsemanship at
2011 Nationals. Though she spent more of her time as an undergraduate riding
hunter seat Ervin was sixth today. Ervin and the
fifth place rider had something in common: Both were the only riders in the
division who had competed at IHSA Nationals in the Cacchione Cup Competition
as undergraduates. 2007 Stony Brook University graduate Rachel Cresswell
took home the pink ribbon on this day.
Alas fourth place went to Phillips. "I think that White is the new Blue
for me," Phillips remarked after the ride. Phillips has now placed fourth in
each of the last three IHSA Nationals alumni flat classes (plus he earned the
white ribbon in 2005 in Sunbury, Ohio). Phillips was very happy with his
ride however, giving high praise to "Sage" who is a Virginia Tech horse.
2011 Northern Kentucky University graduate Lindsay Bosse was third in her
Nationals alumni debut. Originally Bosse attended the University of
Cincinnati, and with NKU coach Lynlee Foster not present it was the Bearcat's
hunter seat coach Missy Jo Hollingsworth who offered Bosse advice from the
sidelines. Though she graduated from Mount Ida College in 2004 (making her
the second oldest rider in the division behind Phillips) it was the IHSA
Nationals debut of Allison Schaitman. With help from Schaaf on the sidelines
(Tufts and Mount Ida are both in Zone 1, Region 4, though ironically Schaaf
trained for some time under Phillips in the 1990's) Schaitman was the Reserve
Champion. Like Russell of Truman State, Lauren Alexander of Cal Poly -
Pomona is still in school but out of undergraduate eligibility. Alexander,
who was second to Turner at Zone 8 Zones was awarded the blue ribbon in
alumni flat at 2:20PM. Alexander's former teammate and current coach Hailey
Quirk was smiling from ear to ear as only three years earlier Quirk had won
alumni flat at Nationals in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Following the parade of teams and the hunter seat team awards (and a drag
of the ring) it was time for Alumni Western Horsemanship. As one might
expect riders walked, jogged and lopped until Judges Gretchen Mathes and
Betsy Tuckey requested everyone line up and perform the pattern one at a
time. Only two riders entered in the division were returnees from the 2011
class which Ervin won. One of these two is Peggy Leonowich-Graham, a 1984
graduate of the United States Military Academy. Leonowich-Graham (who was
eighth in the division in 2011) would be one of two riders who would not receive
a top ten ribbon. Still Leonowich-Graham deserves a mention as she appears
to have set the all-time record between graduation date and most recent IHSA Nationals
alumni appearance at 28 years. It should be noted that 1982 USMA graduate
Pam Leonowich (Peggy's sister) rode head-to-head with her during the regular
season, so if the two keep showing alumni western Pam could take Peggy out of
the record books next season.
|Cal Poly - Pomona hunter seat coach Hailey Quirk (on left) won Alumni on the Flat at Nationals in 2009, three seasons before current Bronco senior
Lauren Alexander (center) won the same division. On the right is 2011 Cal Poly - Pomona graduate Nicole Webber, who unusually is the Captain of the 2011-12 Broncos as
she is currently a Cal Poly - Pomona graduate student.
Former Indiana University of Pennsylvania rider Becky Braymer, who won the
division at the Harrington, Delaware Semifinal, was tenth to kick off the
official placings. Kara Curpier, a graduate of the State University of New
York at Cobleskill was ninth. Curpier had been third in the division at the
Findlay, Ohio Semifinal, one place ahead of former teammate Lee Levine who like
Leonowich-Graham was one of the 12 riders out of the ribbons. Alison Dittman
is the first-ever Tiffin University rider to compete at an IHSA Nationals event.
A 2011 Tiffin graduate Dittman was eighth after having placed second at the
Findlay semifinal. Coincidence seems to be the magic word within this story, as
2007 University of Kentucky graduate Megan Carter earned seventh place in the
division at both 2011 and 2012 Nationals. Carter had won the class of eight at
the Findlay semifinal. 2006 Slippery Rock University graduate Kelly Sheehan was making her
IHSA Nationals debut, earning sixth place. It was not the IHSA Nationals debut
of 2011 State University of New York at New Paltz graduate Amanda Bender. As
an undergraduate Bender was fourth in individual intermediate over fences at
2009 Nationals in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. However this was Bender's western
debut at Nationals and the ribbon turned out to be for fifth. 2011 University
of Delaware graduate James Hobbie should be thankful that the hunter seat
awards presentation and the parade of teams took place between alumni on the
flat and alumni western horsemanship or he would have need to do a 'quick
change.' Though Hobbie was out of the ribbons in alumni flat he was fourth
this time. Though she is listed in the program as a Midway College graduate
Marianne England is a Middle Tennessee State University student in her heart.
Closely involved with the MTSU program for several years now 2001 graduate
England was third in alumni western (England confirmed that this is her best
ribbon to date at an IHSA Nationals event. Previously England's best was a
fourth, earned in both alumni fences and alumni reining at 2003 Nationals in
Murfreesboro). It had been eight years since Lydia Whitlow earned
ribbons not once but twice on the final day of 2004 Nationals. On May 9th,
2004 Whitlow started the day with a second in individual advanced western
horsemanship and ended the day with a fourth in team open western horsemanship.
Now known as Lydia Darnell the 2004 Middle Tennessee State University graduate
picked up where she left off. Darnell, who won the division at the Ocala,
Florida semifinal (ahead of Bender, Leonowich-Graham and England in that order)
was Reserve Champion in her first IHSA Nationals ride in nearly eight years.
2011 University of Delaware graduate Shilpa Deshpande was second at the
Harrington, Delaware semifinal (one place ahead of Sheehan and two places ahead
of former teammate Hobbie). However this time Deshpande was second to none.
A resident of Hillsborough, New Jersey while an undergraduate, Deshpande
provided the University of Delaware with their second alumni win in two days.
Deshpande had competed at IHSA Nationals on several occasions prior to today,
having placed sixth in individual novice western horsemanship in Burbank,
California four seasons ago (Hobbie also took part in that class) and earning
another sixth in individual walk-trot-canter last season while also placing out
of the top ten in the individual AQHA Trophy class in Lexington. Though no
UDel rider had ever won an individual class prior to 2012 the Fighting Hens had
two in two days! Could they make history and be the first team with three
alumni wins at one IHSA Nationals show?
There have been many occasions where one school claimed two blue ribbons at
a specific IHSA Nationals show, with Middle Tennessee State the most recent to
make this claim (Jessica Schultz won both alumni western divisions at 2007
Nationals in West Springfield, Massachusetts for the Blue Raiders). The
University of Delaware would have a shot to break the record if Hobbie could
take the top prize in the final class of the Saturday session, Alumni Reining.
The mathematical odds of Hobbie winning were better than one might imagine, as
the division was made up of only seven riders. Over the past several seasons
well below half of all IHSA regions which offer western have had enough riders
with reining experience to hold the alumni reining division regularly
throughout the regular season. As a result this was the second time in three
seasons that only seven riders qualified for Nationals in the division (the
second-smallest alumni reining class save for the first one in 1998, which was
made up of only three riders!).
Early on both Braymer and Sheehan managed to do something that resulted in
a '0' score, though both would receive a top seven ribbon. Cassandra Walker,
a 2010 Murray State graduate, was in the lead with a score of '139' when
Carter rode for the second time today. The former Wildcat also received a
score of '139' which meant under AQHA rule that if both were tied for first at
the conclusion of the division there would be a ride-off for the blue ribbon.
Paige Montgomery of Western Kentucky initially received a score of '133.5'
but she would request and receive a re-ride. While former Bucks County
Community College rider Alexis Plavocos (who was second in the division at
2011 Nationals) earned a '131' Hobbie went last and to everyone's
surprise also received a score of '139.' The re-ride for Montgomery had some
wondering if there might be a four-way tie but her score actually went down
from a '133.5' to a '118.'
|Murray State western coach Don Delaney (on right) will retire at the end of the 2011-12 season. 2010 Murray State graduate
Cassandra Walker (on left) nearly won her class, finishing second in the Alumni Reining division which saw three riders tied for first prior to
a ride-off in which Walker was second.
There were several interesting sidebars to what is apparantly the first
time in IHSA History that a three-way tie took place in a Reining class at
an IHSA Nationals show. Carter had lost 100 pounds between 2011 and 2012
IHSA Nationals (this writer was taken aback when she said who she was
earlier in the day as she did not resemble the individual he encountered
on two separate occasions during the 2010-11 season. Carter looked
remarkably different - in a very good way - and her weight loss should be
an inspiration to others that it can be done). Walker's coach, long time
Murray State University western coach Don Delaney announced recently that
he would be stepping down from his position at the end of the season.
Though Delaney had two Murray State undergraduates competing during the
Sunday session Walker had a chance to make his next-to-last day on the
job even more memorable. And Hobbie was going for IHSA history trying to
give the University of Delaware three alumni wins at one Nationals show.
Which of the three riders would grab the headline?
Following a horse draw which assured no one competed on the same horse
they reined with earlier Walker went first in the ride-off and received a
score of '135.5.' Hobbie followed and clearly was having difficulty with
his second mount. His score turned out to be a '0.' Carter went last
and coincidentally (there's that word again) received a score of '139' as
she had with her first ride. For a moment some thought Hobbie was going
to get a re-ride but there were simply issues comfirming the placings which
delayed the announcements momentarily. once all seven riders were
in the ring for the awards presentation seventh went to Braymer, Sixth to
Sheehan, fifth to Montgomery, fourth to Plavocos, third to Hobbie,
Reserve Champion to Walker and the blue ribbon to the now svelte-looking Carter. The 2007
graduate is only the second University of Kentucky rider to win an alumni
class at Nationals (Jo Anne Manning won alumni flat way back in 1980) and
the first Wildcat to win an alumni western division at the IHSA's year-end
show. Despite having only seven riders (the fewest entries of any division
over four days) the alumni reining class itself took longer than any other
at 2012 Nationals that was held in one day. Started at 7:05PM it was not
until Marash announced Carter as the winner at 8:38PM that the day was done
and another season of IHSA Alumni activity had come to its' natural
The following is a list of the Alumni Class-by-Class Results from 2012 IHSA
Nationals, held at the James B. Hunt Horse Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Alumni Fences was held on Friday, May 4th while Alumni Flat, Alumni Western
Horsemanship (also known as Alumni Rail) and Alumni Reining were held on
Saturday, May 5th. The judges for all 2012 IHSA Nationals hunter seat classes
were R. Scot Evans and Chrystine Tauber while the judges for all western
classes were Gretchen Mathes and Betsy Tuckey.
Individual Alumni Equitation Over Fences: 1. Nicole Adams, University of
Delaware. 2. Krista Steinmetz, Purdue University. 3. Kelley Mallery, Hollins
University. 4. Rebecca Danz, State University of New York at Albany.
5. Katie Schaaf, Tufts University. 6. Ashley Eggersdorfer, Murray State
University. 7. Chrystal Coffelt-Wood, Kutztown University. 8. Sarah
Thompson, University of Richmond. 9. Amy Kriwitsky, University of
Connecticut. 10. Sarah Bechtel, Lebanon Valley College.
Individual Alumni Equitation On The Flat: 1. Lauren Alexander, Cal Poly -
Pomona. 2. Allison Schaitman, Mount Ida College. 3. Lindsay Bosse, Northern
Kentucky University. 4. Ashton Phillips, Virginia Intermont College.
5. Rachel Cresswell, Stony Brook University. 6. Samantha Erwin, Murray State
University. 7. Julia Turner, University of Southern California. 8. Emily
Rosen, West Chester University. 9. Nikki Layne, Johnson & Wales University.
10. Erica Palmisano, Sweet Briar College.
Alumni Western Horsemanship: 1. Shilpa Deshpande, University of Delaware.
2. Lydia Whitlow Darnell, Middle Tennessee State University. 3. Marianne
England, Midway College 4. James Hobbie, University of Delaware. 5. Amanda
Bender, State University of New York at New Paltz. 6. Kelly Sheehan,
Slippery Rock University. 7. Megan Carter, University of Kentucky.
8. Alison Dittman, Tiffin University. 9. Kara Curpier, State University of
New York at Cobbleskill. 10. Becky Braymer, Indiana University of
Alumni Reining: 1. Megan Carter, University of Kentucky. 2. Cassandra
Walker, Murray State University. 3. James Hobbie, University of Delaware.
4. Alexis Plavocos, Bucks County Community College. 5. Paige Montgomery,
Western Kentucky University. 6. Kelly Sheehan, Slippery Rock University.
7. Becky Braymer, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.