FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
West Springfield, MA----- May 6, 2015----- Most every team has a chant or slogan they repeat to create cohesiveness and encourage that will to win, and the Savannah College of Art and Design "Bees" took theirs to heart during the IHSA Nationals, April 30-May 3, at the Eastern States Exposition.
"Our focus has always been to believe. 'We Bee-lieve! Bee-lieve for SCAD,' " said coach Ashley Henry. "We had some ups and downs this week as you know. A lot of our riders wish they'd left more out there, but that's the IHSA."
It's never over until that last class is pinned, however, and this year's Collegiate Cup Hunt Seat team title came down to the final class, Collegiate Cup Open Equitation on the Flat. That's where SCAD's belief in themselves came shining through. SCAD junior Devon Walther produced a solid ride that clinched second place and the team's National Championship.
2015 IHSA Collegiate Cup Champions Savannah College of Art and Design - Tricia Booker/USHJA Archives Photo
"I knew we were only 2 points ahead of Centenary when we went in, and Cody [Wooten, the Centenary rider] is one of my best friends. I know he's amazing, so I wanted him to do well, but I also wanted to beat him!" Walther said laughing.
With Wooten's sixth-placed ribbon in the class, defending champion Centenary College settled for the Reserve National Championship, while the SCAD Bees earned their first Collegiate Cup in the school's history.
"It's been a great year. Everybody worked incredibly hard. I'm so proud of them," said Henry in her 10th year of coaching at the Georgia-based college. "I went to SCAD and rode on the team, and they asked me to be the Hunt Seat coach. It's been amazing. Eddie [Federwisch] became our director last year, and he's been so supportive of me and standing behind me. He's encouraging and gives me advice and anything I need, and it's been the best."
Wooten didn't leave the IHSA Nationals unrewarded. The 2014 USHJA Emerging Athletes National Training Session, presented by Dover Saddlery, reserve champion, won the Collegiate Cup Open Equitation over fences class as well as the Individual Intermediate Equitation on the Flat.
The Centenary junior also took home the EquestrianCoach.com Achievement of Excellence Award for open hunt seat rider. Bernie Traurig, founder of EquestrianCoach.com, a USHJA educational service provider, and judges Danny Robertshaw and Jimmy Toon selected the winner based on the rider's performances at Nationals, as well as a questionnaire identifying the rider's goals in the sport. Traurig was on-hand to present the award, which includes an apprenticeship with top equitation trainer Karen Healey.
Hay is Best in USEF/Cacchione Cup
In the USEF/Cacchione Cup individual championship, College of Charleston's Elizabeth Hay showed that patience and consistency are the hallmarks of a winning rider.
Hay, contesting her third Cacchione Cup Final, returned for the work-off in fourth place overall. Her impressive performance aboard James moved her up to the victory.
Judges Robertshaw and Toon said they noticed Hay right from the start and rewarded her with top-four placings after the first round over fences and in the flat phase.
"Her foundation showed true in every class," said Robertshaw. "I always tell the kids I train, 'Don't try to knock it out of the park. Don't take the wild risk to be all or nothing, because you're either all or nothing.' One event will usually put you high in the standings and the others will hold you there, and that's the way this girl played the game. She was consistent and pure, and I think that's the right word. Other riders might have snuck in and beaten her by a point or two, but she was always there, and it proved to work for her."
Toon and Robertshaw were also impressed by Hay's ability to quickly form a rapport with the different horses she rode, including James, the mount she drew for the work-off.
"We were very aware of how these horses weren't the easiest, and we rewarded where we could," said Toon. "We looked for riders who have that ability to feel the horse, and she did a great job."
Hay, of Wadmalaw Island, SC, will graduate in May with a degree in business, and she's accepted a job riding and training at nearby River's Edge Farm on John's Island.
Cazenovia College's Chop Chop, a 15.3-hand gelding, received the Triple Crown High-Point Hunt Seat Horse Award. Skidmore College's Daphne earned the SmartPak Most Popular Hunt Seat Horse Award, and Cazenovia College's Sport won the Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program Award.
Patte Zumbrun, IHSA riding coach, director, chair of the IHSA Education Committee and USEF-licensed judge and long-time supporter of the equine industry, received the 2015 IHSA Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, Goucher College (Maryland) also inducted Zumbrun into the school's Athletics Hall of Fame.
USHJA President Bill Moroney attended the show in support of the USHJA/IHSA partnership, which began in 2010.
"Led by Executive Director Bob Cacchione, the IHSA continues to provide a wide range of equestrian opportunities for riders, coaches, volunteers, alumni, parents and program supporters," said Moroney. "The USHJA is excited to be a partner with IHSA in recognizing excellence in collegiate equestrian sport. The IHSA Nationals is just one example of how the partnership between IHSA and USHJA assists both organizations with fulfilling their missions."
To learn more about the USHJA and IHSA partnership, visit www.ushja.org. To enjoy full coverage of the 2015 IHSA Nationals with articles, student rider blogs and photos, please check out the USHJA In Stride IHSA Digital Edition, which will be published and distributed via e-mail and posted on the USHJA website later this month.