The Equestrian Team’s Road to Zones

Four IHSA Members Advance to Next Show

Callie Isaacs, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – It’s been a long and trying year for the Bridgewater IHSA equestrian team but throughout everything, they have remained at the top of the Regional standings. Senior captain Megan Heffernan said, “We’ve had a pretty strong year and even though we didn’t win, we’re supportive of Randolph who won the Region and appreciate the competition they’ve provided for us.”

On Saturday, March 23, the team competed in the last regular show of the season which was held at the University of Virginia. The IHSA team finished 4th, which put them at a 3rd place finish in the Region for the year.

 The next day, Sunday March 24, the team traveled back to UVA to compete in Regionals which throughout the season, individuals would have had to point out of their division. 

An amazing ten riders pointed out and made their way to Regionals to show off their hard work. Those ten include seniors Isabel Ammendolia, Hannah Foster, Michaela Jeuick for the flat only, Caroline Shipe for fences only and Laurin Watts for flat and fences. Junior Georgia Osborne for flat and fences and freshman Michael Golinowski for flat and fences were also among the ten. 

By the end of the day, there were four who qualified to move on to Zones. Foster, Watts, Shipe and Osborne competed Saturday, April 6, at University of Virginia. In order to move on to Zones they had to place either first or second in their division, the same is true in order for these riders to move on to Nationals.

 Competing at Nationals is every IHSA riders’ individual goal and a very hard goal to achieve. If Foster, Watts or Shipe make it to Nationals, they will be missing graduation and heading to Syracuse, N.Y. When asked how they felt about having to miss walking at graduation to compete at Nationals, they all had the same general response. Watts said, “Making it to Nationals would be a dream come true, although graduation is important, I can still get my diploma in the mail. Getting to nationals has been a goal that I’ve had since being a freshman on the IHSA team and getting the opportunity to go would be amazing, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” 

 Since going to Zones is a big step in the track to get to Nationals, the four who qualified are continuing to work hard to prepare. Although the regular season is over and the team is done with practices and workouts, it does not stop for these athletes. 

 Watts talked about not only the physical aspect but also the mental preparation that she is taking in order to get ready. 

“I’m going to try to ride as much as I can with any free time although it’s hard with it being the end of the year but I don’t want to change anything. Mentally I keep telling myself that it’s awesome I’ve even gotten to this point so that has taken the pressure off which helps because honestly I don’t perform well under pressure.” 

Preparing for this level of competition is not just from hard work put in this year, it is the result of a long dedication to a sport they love. All of the riders who have qualified for Zones have been riding for many years before coming to Bridgewater. 

Shipe has been around horses her whole life which is thanks to her older sister sharing the same passion. Shipe said, “Ever since I could walk my dad would tack up ponies and lead me around the ring while my sister rode.” She has been riding and working hard to achieve various goals since a young age and that is not stopping now. 

After competing, Osborne was the only member of the IHSA team to qualify for Nationals.

 This is an exciting journey for these four Eagles and they are just one step away from representing Bridgewater College at a National competition.