They traveled further than anyone else to get there but perhaps it was all worth it.
Former University of Connecticut riders Debbie Kaufman (on left) and Amy Kriwitsky would both leave the
Valley Forge Military Academy and College indoor with blue ribbons during the inaugural all-alumni show in
Wayne, Pennsylvania on July 29th. Kaufman shook off the effects of an
ankle problem to win an over fences class while Kriwitsky won the top overall prize, the Alumni Cup.
A MIDSUMMER MORNING'S COMPETITION
Wayne, PA - It may seem hard to believe, but the July 29th competition billed as
the Alumni Tournament of Champions was both the first-ever IHSA-related horse show
to take place in the month of July and the first-ever all IHSA alumni show (though
the name 'Tournament of Champions' was used this will happen only once for an
alumni event. This particular show did not in any way involve Jim Arrigon or his
Beckett Run Farm, which normally put on Tournament of Champions events during the
traditional school year). When the deadline for entries passed on July 15th, 20
riders signed up. When the actual show took place, 17 former IHSA riders competed
in at least one class if not more.
Though the show was orginally scheduled to start at 8:00AM things were
leasurely on the campus of Valley Forge Military Academy and College. Everyone was
allowed the chance to get to an unfamiliar facility without being rushed (only 1999
Wilson College graduate Megan Mendenhall, 2010 West Chester University graduate
Emily Rosen and 2011 Arcadia graduate Rebecca Del Pizzo had competed there
previously). With only five classes scheduled logic prevailed that the show would
not run far into the afternoon even if the event was slow to start.
Following the schooling and the pre-show meeting (perhaps the first-ever that
could not be called a 'Coaches and Captains meeting,' through no less than three
riding alumni were coincidentally IHSA coaches) the first division of the
first-ever all-alumni show was something called the 2'3" Fences. Lehigh University
head coach Lena Andrews Licata and former Delaware Valley College rider Jamie Mast Windle
organized the event, and both were well aware that some IHSA regions set the height
for alumni fences at the novice level and some set the fences at the intermediate
level. The 2'3" fences was for those who prefered the novice height. Though six
riders were officially listed in the program one rider was a no-show while another
decided to scratch from the over fences divisions only due to the effects of a cold.
The four riders completed the course of eight fences only to find out that each
would be tested further. Judge Louise Kass asked riders to jump three of the fences
at the canter, then halt, then back up four steps, circle at the sitting trot and
exit at the walk. Beth Ann Mulford, who was Beth Ann Clark when she graduated from
Beaver College in 1995 (now known as Arcadia University), might have averted fourth
place had she not had a refusal on the final fence prior to the test. Mulford was
fourth, 2010 Lebanon Valley College graduate Kristi Jacobsen third, former
Susquehanna University rider Amanda Cavanaugh second and 2011 Arcadia University
graduate Rebecca Del Pizzo the champion. Should the Alumni Tournament go on to have
a lengthy history Del Pizzo can claim to be the first rider to win a class of any
kind at an alumni tournament event.
|In addition to holding "R.C." former Arcadia University rider Rebecca Del Pizzo holds the first prizes ever awarded at what will hopefully become a yearly
alumni event. With help from "R.C." Del Pizzo won the first class of the day, the 2'3" fences.
With several of the Philadelphia area regions usually setting the bar at
2'6" for alumni fences it was not too surprising that the second class of the
day - 2'6" Fences - was made up of 11 riders. All but three of the riders in
this division have undergraduate degrees from Pennsylvania - based schools.
One of the entries, Dartmouth College graduate Stacy Klein, shows alumni in
Zone 3, Region 4 during the regular season, where the fences are set to the
higher level. Former University of Connecticut riders Amy Kriwitsky and
Debbie Kaufman may or may not ride at the novice level at Zone 2, Region 5
shows. However both were open riders as undergraduates so the taller height
would not be an issue for either.
The division was begun in similar fashion to the the 2'3" fences, with
everyone going over the course of eight fences. Not all eleven were tested
though some were. When the placings were announced Mendenhall was sixth.
Mendenhall actually had made her IHSA alumni debut at Valley Forge in 2011.
Kutztown University graduate and current Gwynedd Mercy College head coach
Amanda Enwright was fifth while yet another IHSA coach (and coincidentally
a former teammate) in Chrystal Wood was fourth. Known as Chrystal Coffelt
when she was a Kutztown undergraduate, Wood is the head coach for the Penn
State - Berks Campus team. 2011 Lehigh University graduate Katie Moulton
was third while Tracey Lightner was the reserve champion. Known as Tracey
Evans when she graduated from Delaware Valley College in 1997, Lightner
missed considerable time over parts of the past two seasons with two
consecutive riding-related injuries. It was good to see Lightner able to
place this high since she missed out on 2011 Regionals prior to the first
of the two setbacks. The injury bug did not stop Debbie Kaufman from
earning the blue ribbon. A former rider for one semester with the UConn
Huskies, Kaufman had done something to her right ankle when rock climbing
a few days earlier. Though she had one crutch to get around, and despite
clearly being unable to put weight into her right foot during the flat
classes, Kaufman impressed over the jumps and won the class of eleven.
Something called 'Alumni Cup Fences' followed. This is a two-phased
division (think the Tournament of Champions Medal class), where riders
jumped in the AM and flatted in the PM in hope of being the top alumni
rider at the event. The division was limited to two riders per region,
with those who signed up first getting in. Nine riders took part, with
each jumping the course at this time and flating in the final class of
the day. Following the nine over fences rides there was a 40 minute
break to school the flat horses. Among those schooling at today' show
were Villanova University rider Anne Cullen, Villanova/Valley Forge
Military College head coach (and former University of Delaware rider)
Sara McCoy Palmer, and former Delaware Valley rider Windle, who like
Licata was eligible to actually compete in today's show. Both Licata
(who is usually still listed in all programs as Andrews) and Windle (who
usually is listed by her married name and not Mast) decided they would
run the first event rather than ride in it to do their best to make sure
all went as planned. Though she did not necessarily school horses,
Maria Metz of Delaware Valley College was on hand to hold horses and take
care of other issues at Valley Forge that morning.
|One of only two riders entered who could claim to have competed as an alumni rider in two different IHSA
regions over the past three seasons, Emily Rosen (pictured) was the first rider to win a flat class at today's show. Rosen
was best in a field of seven riders who showed in 'Alumni Advanced.'
Two other IHSA coaches were in attendance. Lafayette College head
coach Erin Githens was there to help support the alumni while Burlington
County College head coach Briana Quinn represented 'the Plaid Horse,'
a publication whose July/August issue is also their college/high school
issue, with lots of information related to the IHSA and IEA. Quinn also
agreed to be a steward. With no stewards listed in the program Quinn
appears to have been the only 'official' steward though no incident came
up requiring a steward's decision.
When the schooling break ended at 11:54AM the 'Flat Advanced' class
commenced. Seven riders took part, with everyone asked to walk, trot and
canter in each direction. However judge Kass then did something that
pleased this writer. Everyone was asked to line up in the far end of the
arena. The riders were asked to perform a demonstration of their own
choosing. The only caveat was that the demonstration would be timed, and
that it would last only up to one minute. 2010 Lebanon Valley College
graduate Sarah Bechtel went first, working without her irons, and
completing a figure eight split up evenly between the canter and the
sitting trot. Bechtel was very smooth, and it appeared the next few
rides were not as fluid. Wood choose to perform a leg yeild, which both
Quinn and this writer thought went well. 2010 West Chester University
graduate (and one-time Skidmore rider) Emily Rosen executed a turn on the
forehand which also impressed. Eventually the results were announced and
somewhat surprisingly Wood was sixth and Bechtel fifth. Lightner was
fourth while Mendenhall was third. Kriwitsky earned her first ribbon of
the day with a second while Rosen won the division outright. Kass later
said that Rosen's test moved her way up in the standings.
The Alumni Flat followed, with eight riders participating. The only
difference between this division and alumni advanced was that the test
required two figure eights, one at the canter and one at the trot (contrary
to what was stated in an earlier version of this story Del Pizzo pointed
out that both figure eights in this division were performed without stirups).
When the alumni flat results were announced Del
Pizzo was sixth followed by Mulford in fifth (this writer asked Mulford if she
received a brand-new diploma when Beaver changed their name to Arcadia
eleven years ago. Mulford did indeed receive a new diploma with the
Arcadia name, as did every living Beaver alumni at that time). University
of Scranton graduate Michelle Geise was fourth. Geise acted as the
official show photographer, something she has considerable experience
with. At both 2011 and 2012 Zone 3 Zones Geise was one of the
photographers enlisted by the IHSA to take photos on behalf of their
marketing committee. Former Rutgers University rider Liz Baxter was third.
Though Dartmouth graduate Klein is a professor at Rutgers, Baxter was the
only rider with a Rutgers undergraduate degree to partake in today's
show. Enwright moved up from a fifth to reserve champion. By winning
the division, Cavanaugh had the best day of any rider so far, earning a
first and a second.
Cavanaugh was not entered in the Cup classes, so her fine day was done at
this point (as it was for seven others). Rosen, Moulton, Mendenhall,
Kriwitsky, Kaufman, Jacobsen, Enwright, Bechtel and Jessica Benner of
Kutztown were all to take part in the final class of the day, the flat
phase of the Alumni Cup. When Kass had seen enough everyone was excused
and the results of the division were announced. Sixth place went to
Moulton while fifth place went to Enwright, making her the first of two
riders to have received three ribbons on this day. Bechtel was fourth
while Rosen was third. Mendenhall kept improving throughout the day,
going from a sixth to a third to a reserve championship. Kriwitsky, who
was out of the ribbons over fences managed to earn a first and a second
just like Cavanaugh. However Kriwitsky had the honor of being the first
rider to win the Alumni Cup. The trophy awarded to the UConn alum and
current Trinity College head coach was, in fact, a cup. The Alumni Cup
appears to be the only perpetual trophy given out at today's event. At
IHSA Nationals the top four riders in the individual open reining division
get to take part in the Collegiate Derby in Oklahoma City a few months
later. Andrews Licata arranged for the winner of the Alumni Cup to receive
an automatic entry into the first annual Mid-Atlantic Equitation Festival
in Upper Marlboro, Maryland November 16-19. More information about the
festival can be found at http://alumnitoc.webs.com/apps/blog/ which
hopefully will not conflict with any Zone 2, Region 5 shows Kriwitsky might
be riding (or coaching) in at that time.
|Kriwitsky (center, between tournament organizers Lena Andrews Licata on left and Jamie Mast
Windle on right) braved heavy rain and wind in Connecticut one day earlier to drive down to the Philadelphia
suburbs for the Alumni Tournament. Kriwitsky won the two-phased Alumni Cup division,
earning the only perpetual trophy associated with the competition so far.
The results of the Alumni Cup were announced at 1:46PM, giving
everyone plenty of time to get home wherever home might be. The
show was successful, with several riders already talking about next
season (or next summer, if the event remains a staple of the July
itenerary). Andrews Licata talked about the yearly alumni show
taking place in different areas. This writer recommends taking the
alumni show to New England, as many alumni in Zone 1 would probably
compete (some Zone 2 alumni in the Albany, New York area might also
welcome the chance to enter). Perhaps the only letdown for this
writer was the missed opportunity to see three riders who originally
signed up but did not compete. Two of these riders would have come
up from the Washington, DC area, which sadly did not have any
representation at the innagural event without them. Still the
first all-alumni show went off without a hitch, and it was a welcome
sight to see an IHSA-related show during what is normally a solid
four month gap between such events.
Show Incidentals: Mostly sunny skies with temperatures reaching
the mid 80's. Entire show held indoors. Start time: 9:38AM. Finish:
1:46Pm - includes 40 minute lunch/schooling break. There was a
pre-show meeting of all riders and the organizers. Judge: Louise Kass.
Steward: Briana Quinn/Burlington County College.
2'3" Fences: 1. Rebecca Del Pizzo, Arcadia University. 2. Amanda
Cavanaugh, Susquehanna University. 3. Kristi Jacobsen, Lebanon Valley
College. 4. Beth Ann Mulford, Beaver College (now known as Arcadia
2'6" Fences. 1. Debbie Kaufman, University of Connecticut. 2.
Tracey Lightner, Delaware Valley College. 3. Katie Moulton, Lehigh
University. 4. Chrystal Wood, Kutztown University. 5. Amanda Enwright,
Kutztown University. 6. Megan Mendenhall, Wilson College.
Alumni Flat Advanced: 1. Emily Rosen, West Chester University.
2. Amy Kriwitsky, University of Connecticut. 3. Megan Mendenhall,
Wilson College. 4. Tracey Lightner, Delaware Valley College. 5. Sarah
Bechtel, Lebanon Valley College. 6. Chrystal Wood, Kutztown University.
Alumni Flat: 1. Amanda Cavanaugh, Susquehanna University. 2. Amanda
Enwright, Kutztown University. 3. Liz Baxter, Rutgers University.
4. Michelle Geise, University of Scranton. 5. Beth Ann Mulford, Beaver
College (known today as Arcadia University). 6. Rebecca Del Pizzo,
Alumni Cup: 1. Amy Kriwitsky, University of Connecticut. 2. Megan
Mendenhall, Wilson College. 3. Emily Rosen, West Chester University.
4. Sarah Bechtel, Lebanon Valley College. 5. Amanda Enwright, Kutztown
University. 6. Katie Moulton, Lehigh University.