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They are the future! From left to right are Cristin LaLone (from Washington College), Kristin McLiverty (from Slippery Rock University), Juliana Cipressi (Clarion University), Victoria Green (Le Moyne College), Danielle "Dani" Wolff (Lafayette College) and Grace Harper (Rutgers University). Each of these riders made the top six in the two-phased hunter seat Future Alumni Cup division at the Alumni Tournament of Champions in Ringoes, New Jersey on June 4th. This division was created specifically for riders who were seniors this past season so they are able to compete as alumni for the first time. After both a fences and a flat phase Green (who was on the founding Le Moyne team three seasons ago) was the blue ribbon winner.

MATHEWS AND FOLK TAKE TOP PRIZES AT 2017 ALUMNI TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

Ringoes, NJ - For some it is viewed as the sixth anniversary. For others it is only the fourth time. In 2012 and 2013 the Alumni Tournament of Champions event was hunter seat only. Then in 2014 separate English and Western Alumni shows were held. And for the past three seasons English and Western Alumni classes have been held on the same day at the same facility.

The current incarnation of Briarwood Farm played host to the 2017 Alumni Tournament on Sunday, June 4th, with nearly 90 riders competing from at least 16 different regions (not including riders in the Reunion divisions which are open to individuals who did not show alumni within the IHSA in 2016-17). The overcast skies helped keep the temperature in the low '70's which made for comfortable June riding conditions. And after nearly nine hours of official rides 14 blue ribbons had been handed out.

It should be noted that separate rings were used for the English and Western classes, with English held outdoors in the large ring (the current Briarwood has two outdoor rings) and Western indoors. This arrangement meant classes overlapped, which would mean a delay during the day while one English class was "Held" while a rider from a Western division changed clothing to compete hunter seat.

The 2'3" fences division (the novice fences height for traditional IHSA shows) went first, though Western riders in alumni horsemanship were being judged at the walk indoors only a few moments later. The scores of Judge Barbara Feigus were read aloud over the public address system, and the top four scores (each between an '80' and a '72') were invited back to test. When the testing was completed Rochester Institute of Technology graduate Lindsay Voak - who had the top score with an 80 prior to testing - was the blue ribbon winner. Though Voak was an undergraduate in Zone 2, Region 1 she showed alumni during the 2016-17 regular season in Zone 3, Region 3. Voak trains with Marist College head coach Claire Knapp at Crosswinds Farm in LaGrangeville, New York, who was one of a very small number of IHSA coaches on hand to give their riders a hand. The runner-up was Molloy College graduate Kathleen Rainis, who was one of four Zone 2, Region 4 riders in the division. Each of the four made the top six, claiming all but first and fifth places. Made up of schools from Long Island, New York and the five boroughs of New York City, Zone 2, Region 4 had a total of nine riders who showed throughout the day (in addition two others were entered but scratched).

Because there were only 15 Western riders entered across all the Western divisions separate classes for those who did not ride within the IHSA were not held. The "Reunion" riders showing Western in an IHSA-style format for the first time in at least one full school year were mixed into the divisions with those who had ridden at least once in an IHSA show during the past season. Kutztown University graduate Cody Koneski finished on top in a field of six riders to win the first of six Western classes, the previously mentioned Alumni Horsemanship. Koneski brought three horses to the show for use in the competition, as this was the first time a Western show of any kind has been held at the current Briarwood Farm in Ringoes, New Jersey. It is not clear if Koneski drew one of her own horses for this division. Second place went to State University of New York at Cobleskill graduate Lee Levine, who finished one place ahead of former teammate Christa Bramberger who shows in the same Zone 2, Region 3 Western Alumni classes with her for the past seven seasons.
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One of the riders who traveled the furthest was recent Michigan State graduate Moriah Christoffersen (center). The only rider at this year's tournament from Zone 6, Region 4 won the Western Future Alumni Cup division. Christoffersen is seen here receiving the cup (which is shaped like a western boot) from Alumni Tournament creators Lena Andrews (on left) and Jamie Windle (on right).


Made up of 27 riders, the 2'6" alumni fences class was the second division held outdoors. The class took over an hour to complete, during which multiple Western divisions were started and finished indoors about 200 feet away. The rider who went seventh, Ali Malcanas of Bethany College, received the highest score which was an '83' from Judge Feigus. The top six were invited back to test, and though Malcanas (who rode at 2016 Nationals in the Cacchione Cup division) remained in first to win the blue ribbon two other riders moved up. University of Connecticut graduate Tara Mathews (who was Tara Lynch when she rode at 2008 Nationals in the Cacchione class) was third headed into testing with a score of '81.' Mathews finished as reserve champion while Siena College graduate Carolynn Mulder improved on her '80.5' score to earn third place. With the win Malcanas appears to be the first rider from a Zone 2, Region 5 school to win a hunter seat class at an Alumni Tournament event.

Meanwhile the second Western class held was Advanced Horsemanship. With seven entries in the division it was the largest Western class of the day (one year earlier nine riders were entered, which could be said of three western classes held at the 2016 Alumni meet). Lafayette College graduate Rebecca Folk was one of two riders out of the ribbons in this division when it was held at Jentri Stables last June, but this time Folk was the Advanced winner. Folk has competed in this division at every Alumni Western event held thus far and was the inaugural Advanced Western Horsemanship winner at Red Wing Farm in Hilltown, Pennsylvania in the summer of '14. Second in the division in '17 was Andrea LaManque. A graduate of Morrisville State College, LaManque rides in Zone 2, Region 3 shows versus Cobleskill grads Levine and Bramberger on a regular basis. Third went to University of Massachusetts at Amherst graduate Meghan Gennings, one of the four Western reunion riders to take part in the show.

The Advanced Reining division that followed contained six of the same seven entries as the Advanced horsemanship. Sadly Campus Equestrian does not have the reining scores for this division or any of the reining divisions. Gennings moved up two placings, winning to become the only western reunion entree to leave Briarwood with a blue ribbon. Kayla Hawley, who was Kayla Blanchette when she was an undergraduate at Central Connecticut State University, had been out of the ribbons in the previous class. Hawley, who also co-coaches her alma matter during the regular season, was the reserve champion in advanced reining. Another reunion rider, Cassie Clark of what was known as Delaware Valley College at the time (now Delaware Valley University), earned third place honors in this division.

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The balloons are trying to attack the winners! Dartmouth College graduate Stacy Klein (third on right, holding silver plate) has trained with current Princeton and New York University coach Ashton Phillips (third on left) for almost two years. 1989 Virginia Intermont College graduate Phillips saw 1990 graduate Klein become his second student in three seasons to finish one place higher in Advanced Flat at the ATOC (former Tufts University rider and Phillips student Katie Schaaf won the division in 2015). "I would rather be beaten by one of my own students than someone else's," said Phillips after both his '15 and '17 ATOC appearances.

Back in the large outdoor six riders attempted to navigate the fences in the jumping phase of the Future Alumni Cup. Placings would not be announced for the division until the flat phase was completed much later. Next in were riders entered in Reunion Fences. Eighteen riders who had not showed during the 2016-17 season went one-by-one. Four riders were eventually tested, with the rider with the initial high score awarded the blue ribbon. Rice University graduate Elizabeth Corkett earned a score of '80' in her initial trip. This made Corkett the first rider in Alumni Tournament history who attended a school from the state of Texas to win a class at an alumni event. Lafayette College riders could claim top two ribbons in each ring, as 2009 graduate Emily Mallory was reserve champion. Mallory, who was from California before staying on the east coast after graduating from Lafayette, joked with Corkett that they had 'traded places' since Corkett now lives in California but lived on Long Island in her youth. Virginia Commonwealth University graduate Aly Howse was third. Howse initially received a score of '78' prior to testing which at the time would have meant second place. However Mallory moved up from a '76' score (fourth out of the top four) to claim the red ribbon.

Meanwhile two Reining Phases were held in the indoor. Six riders took part in the reining phase of the Western Alumni Cup while two riders did so in the Western Future Alumni Cup (three riders were entered in the latter, but one scratched. The class was still pinned despite fewer than three participants). The Alumni Reining division was made up of four riders, with Koneski again the champion. Placing between Levine in second and Bramberger in fourth was Reunion rider Samantha Smith of Bloomsburg University.

The over fences phase of the Alumni Cup was the last time the jumps were needed on this day. 20 riders took part, with scores given but no ribbons awarded at the time. Meanwhile the western portion of the show continued at such a pace that all of the western classes were nearly over. The rail phase of the Western Future Alumni Cup was won by Moriah Christoffersen of Michigan State University while the reserve champion was Amanda Tucker of Bloomsburg University. Like all riders in the future classes, each was making their Alumni Tournament debut. The futures divisions are open to riders who specifically showed as undergraduates during the previous season, but who graduated at the end of the school year as well (or were out of eligibility or were certain they would no longer be riding as undergraduates). The final western class was the rail phase of the regular Western Alumni Cup. After all six riders completed their reining pattern the results were not unlike a few of the earlier divisions. Western Judge Cindy Van Elswyk again chose Folk as the winner, followed by Hawley in second. The third place ribbon went to Westfield State University graduate Tammy Cranouski, who like Hawley showed during the regular season in the Western New England region that combines Zone 1, Region 3 and Zone 1, Region 5. Folk became the first rider from a school located in the Northeastern United States to win the Western Alumni Cup. The previous winners were Kimberly King of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (in 2014), Caitlin Arthur of Saginaw Valley State Universitiy (in 2015; SVSU is located in Michigan) and Michelle Ivan also of Saginaw Valley State (in 2016).

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The Balloons are well behaved this time! In the back row the riders are (from left to right) Steph Mackowski (RIT), Alexis Wirth (Kutztown University), Michelle Green (Dickinson College), Maggie Gordon (Lehigh University), Tara Mathews (University of Connecticut), Klein, Carolynn Mulder (Siena College) and Katy Hannon (RIT). Kneeling in front are Windle and Andrews. The balloons are at attention since this is the only class where eight ribbons as opposed to six are handed out, and the division in question is the hunter seat Alumni Cup Championship. Mathews became the third rider from a Connecticut school to win this award and the second from the University of Connecticut.

Reunion Flat was the first hunter seat flat class of the day. Delayed for a few minutes for a Western rider to change clothes after an awards presentation and then show hunter seat, 24 riders took part but were divided into three separate heats of eight riders each (heats would be the order of the day from here on due to the large number of flat riders). Two riders from each heat were invited back for the work-off (including Clark of Delaware Valley, thus assuring her of earning both hunter seat and western ribbons at the show). The two riders to emerge out of the third heat went on to place first and second. The winner of the Reunion Flat was 1984 College of St. Elizabeth graduate Sandy Rose. Though she resides in New England, Rose showed alumni during the 2015-16 season in Zone 3, Region 4, which contains schools in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Aside from that one season of alumni Rose did not show at any time since her days riding for Arlene Kowalski at St. Elizabeth (which has not fielded an IHSA team this decade). Second place went to Janessa Capozzolo, a 2016 Temple University graduate. Capozzolo was nearly the second Temple alum to win a class at the Alumni Tournament in two seasons, as former teammate Bianca Lupo won the hunter seat Alumni Cup in 2016. Third place went to former Rutgers University rider Caitlin Doran, who a year earlier won the Alumni Flat class which started the 2016 Alumni Tourney.

Alumni Flat took place much later in the day in 2017 and followed Reunion Flat. With 13 riders entered there were only two heats to narrow down the field. Eventually one of the many riders from Long Island to compete was declared the winner. Nassau Community College graduate Francisca Martinez took home the blue ribbon while Rainis repeated her alumni fences red ribbon to give Zone 2, Region 4 riders the top two. Third place went to Wilson College graduate (and current Wilson head coach) Megan Mendenhall. A member of the Class of 1999, Mendenhall was the 2015 hunter seat Alumni Cup champion when the competition was held in Stevenson, Maryland. Mendenhall also provided one of the horses at today's show (which was one of two horses named "Monty" though their names were spelled differently). Martinez's win created an anomaly in that both flat class winners so far went to schools that did not show within the IHSA during the 2016-17 season.

23 riders took part in the Advanced Flat division including the 2016 winner Mathews. After two riders moved forward from each of the three heats the final result saw the pupil win out over the teacher. Ashton Phillips, who finished second in the same division two seasons earlier to former student and Tufts graduate Katie Schaaf, again received the red ribbon as Stacy Klein won. A 1990 Dartmouth College graduate (and member of the Rutgers University faculty today) Klein had trained the past few years with Phillips. Phillips, a 1989 Virginia Intermont College graduate who currently coaches both New York University and Princeton University, was again quoted as saying "I would rather finish second to one of my own students than to someone else's!" Had Phillips won the most bizarre streak would have continued, for Virginia Intermont College no longer exists (it ceased operations in 2014). Therefore VI did not field an IHSA team this season just like College of St. Elizabeth and Nassau Community College. However Dartmouth College is doing just fine and we are checking the record books to confirm if Klein is the first graduate of an Ivy League school to win a class at an Alumni Tournament event. Third place in the division went to Rutgers graduate Emily Hulak. Though Rutgers is located less than 35 miles from Briarwood Farm Hulak currently does not live in the area. Hulak has shown alumni the past three seasons within Zone 5, Region 1, meaning she traveled from a region mostly made up of schools in Tennessee and Kentucky to compete in the alumni show.

After the Future Alumni Cup Flat Phase was completed the top prize went to 2017 Le Moyne College graduate Victoria Green. Le Moyne only joined the IHSA three seasons ago and Green (who had the high jumping score in the class with an '80') was one of the team founders. Juliana Cipressi nearly gave Zone 2, Region 5 a second blue ribbon. The Clarion University graduate was the Future Alumni Cup resere champion. Danielle Wolff became the third Lafayette rider of the day to make the top three, placing third.

Unlike all the other classes where six riders receive ribbons (this provided as many as six riders are entered) the hunter seat Alumni Cup division is pinned to eight place. Announced over the public address system in reverse order the riders in eight and seventh were former Rochester Institute of Technology riders Steph Mackowski and Katy Hannon, respectively. Sixth went to Kutztown University graduate Alexis Wirth, who like Koneski and Mendenhall brought at least one horse to the event. Siena grad Mulder was fifth while Dickinson College graduate Michelle Green (no relation to the Le Moyne graduate who won earlier) was fourth. It was the first IHSA-related ride for Green since showing alumni in what was then Zone 2, Region 1 (but is now Zone 3, Region 3) roughly ten years ago. Klein, a regular alumni rider in Zone 3, Region 4 along with Mulder and most of today's entries from Rutgers, was almost a double-blue ribbon winner. Klein came in third while former Lehigh University open rider Maggie Gordon was the reserve champion. Less than a month earlier Gordon was fourth at IHSA Nationals in the alumni flat class.

The first two riders ever to win the Alumni Cup were both graduates of schools located in the state of Connecticut. University of Connecticut graduate Amy Kriwitsky won the 2012 inaugural event in Wayne, Pennsylvania while Post University graduate Heather Johnson won the division in Long Valley, New Jersey a year later. University of Delaware graduate Sara Palmer (now going once again by her maiden name, Sara McCoy, and still the head coach of the Villanova University equestion team - and who brought horses - and who was one of three announcers for the internet broadcast of the 2017 tournament along with Mendenhall and this writer) won the cup in '14 to end the streak of Connecticut riders. Pennsylvania schools then produced '15 winner Mendenhall and '16 winner Lupo. In '17 the blue ribbon was awarded to Mathews, who had won at least one class at each of the two previous events but not the Cup. With her blue ribbon performance Mathews appears to be the first rider to win at least one hunter seat class at three consecutive Alumni Tournament events. Her win also gives UConn two of the six winners in the division to date.

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Oh my goodness someone took away the balloons! Tara Mathews (on horse) poses with Windle (on left) and Andrews after the conclusion of the show. So far four of the previous five ATOC Alumni Cup award winners have yet to return to compete in another ATOC event (including both from Connecticut schools). Will Mathews return to defend her championship in 2018?

Save for Mendenhall each of the previous Alumni Cup winners has so far not competed at another Alumni Tournament of Champions event following their grand triumph. This writer hopes that down the road the first nine winners of this division all return for the tenth anniversary tourney event to compete in a special 'Titans of Alumni" class and that a similar Western class is held as well. Wishful thinking on this writer's part? Absolutely, but with so many of the entries expressing to alumni tournament co-founders Lena Andrews and Jamie Windle how thankful they are just to have the opportunity to get together and complete in this unique event every year makes one think it would only add to the aura of the event which again drew over 80 riders from nearly half of the IHSA's 39 geographic regions.

--Steve Maxwell

Show Incidentals: Overcast skies for most of the day, with some sun and occasional light rain. Hunter seat classes held outdoors, Western classes held indoors. Start time: 9:02AM. Finish: 5:50PM. Hunter Seat Judge: Barbara Feigus. Western Judge: Cindy Van Elswyk.

The Class-By-Class Results, listed in the order in which they were held (Editor's Note: All of the Western Classes were completed before the start of the final five Hunter Seat Classes):

2'3" Fences: 1. Lindsay Voak, Rochester Institute of Technology. 2. Kathleen Rainis, Molloy College. 2. Francesca Martinez, Nassau Community College. 4. Colleen Dreyer, Long Island University - Post College. 5. Sisi Ruan, George Washington University. 6. Elizabeth Lugten, Stony Brook University.

Alumni Horsemanship: 1. Cody Koneski, Kutztown University. 2. Lee Levine, State University of New York at Cobleskill. 3. Christa Bramberger, State University of New York at Cobleskill. 4. Mary Kandis, Augustana College. 5. Veronica Tennariello, Montclair State University. 6. Samantha Smith, Bloomsburg University.

2'6" Fences. 1. Ali Malcanas, Bethany College. 2. Tara Mathews, University of Connecticut. 3. Carolynn Mulder, Siena College. 4. Stephanie Ripka, Penn State University (State College). 5. Sarah Smith, Villanova University. 6. Kim Fiedler, Bloomsburg University.

Advanced Horsemanship: 1. Rebecca Folk, Lafayette College. 2. Andrea LaManque, Morrisville State College. 3. Meghan Gennings, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 4. Tammy Cranouski, Westfield State University. 5. Cassie Clark, Delaware Valley University. 6. Kelsey Neligon, Westfield State University.

Future Alumni Cup (combined flat and fences phases): 1. Victoria Green, Le Moyne College. 2. Juliana Cipressi, Clarion University. 3. Danielle Wolff, Lafayette College. 4. Kristin McLiverty, Slippery Rock University. 5. Grace Harper, Rutgers University. 6. Cristin LaLone, Washington College.

Advanced Reining: 1. Meghan Gennings, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 2. Kayla Hawley, Central Connecticut State University. 3. Cassie Clark, Delaware Valley University. 4. Rebecca Folk, Lafayette College. 5. Andrea LaManque, Morrisville State University. 6. Kelsey Neligon, Westfield State University.

Reunion Fences: 1. Elizabeth Corkett, Rice University. 2. Emily Mallory, Lafayette College. 3. Aly Howse, Virginia Commonwealth University. 4. Hayley Menkins, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 5. Kelly Gerland, Lynchburg College. 6. Dr. Caitlin Doran, Rutgers University.

Alumni Reining: 1. Cody Koneski, Kutztown University. 2. Lee Levine, State University of New York at Cobleskill. 3. Samantha Smith, Bloomsburg University. 4. Christa Bramberger, State University of New York at Cobleskill.

Reunion Flat: 1. Sandy Rose, College of Saint Elizabeth. 2. Janessa Capozzolo, Temple University. 3. Dr. Caitlin Doran, Rutgers University. 4. Sara Pollack, Fairfield University. 5. Whitney Angelini, Slippery Rock University. 6. Cassie Clark, Delaware Valley University.

Western Future Alumni Cup (combined reining and rail phases): 1. Moriah Christoffersen, Michigan State University. 2. Amanda Tucker, Bloomsburg University.

Alumni Flat: 1. Francesca Martinez, Nassau Community College. 2. Kathleen Rainis, Molloy College. 3. Megan Mendenhall, Wilson College. 4. Tracey Lightner, Delaware Valley University. 5. Kim Fiedler, Bloomsburg University. 6. Lindsay Voak, Rochester Institute of Technology.

Western Alumni Cup (combined reining and rail phases): 1. Rebecca Folk, Lafayette College. 2. Kayla Hawley, Central Connecticut State University. 3. Tammy Cranouski, Westfield State University. 4. Codi Koneski, Kutztown University. 5. Andrea LaManque, Morrisville State College. 6. Kelsey Neligon, Westfield State University.

Advanced Flat: 1. Stacy Klein, Dartmouth College. 2. Ashton Phillips, Virginia Intermont College. 3. Emily Hulak, Rutgers University. 4. Ali Malcanas, Bethany College. 5. Irene Peluso, Fairfield University. 6. Maggie Gordon, Lehigh University.

Hunter Seat Alumni Cup (combined flat and fences phases): 1. Tara Mathews, University of Connecticut. 2. Maggie Gordon, Lehigh University. 3. Stacy Klein, Dartmouth College. 4. Michelle Green, Dickinson College. 5. Carolynn Mulder, Siena College. 6. Alexis Wirth, Kutztown University. 7. Katy Hannon, Rochester Institute of Technology. 8. Steph Mackowski, Rochester Institute of Technology.

 


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