"Angel" poses with (from left to right) Angela Bernier, Brittany Johnson, Catherine Maher and Jess Snell
of the University of Connecticut. Over the first six classes on March 10th each of these UConn riders won a class. At the
time the Huskies were gaining ground in a must-win situation to try and catch Sacred Heart in the standings.
UCONN, SACRED HEART SETTLE 2011-12 HIGH POINT TEAM FOR THE YEAR TOWARDS THE END OF THE FINAL REGULAR SEASON SHOW
Storrs, CT - If you are going to try to make up 16 points in
the team standings over the course of one single IHSA show it
is best if you are in your own facility.
It helps even more if your point riders in the first two
divisions of the day win outright while the team you are
chasing places no higher than third.
This is how the day started out for the University of
Connecticut. Angela Bernier (senior, Putnam, Connecticut) and
Brittany Johnson (senior, Farmington, Connecticut) of the
Huskies were both winners in open flat. Catherine Maher
(sophomore, Avon, Connecticut) and Jess Snell (senior,
Marlborough, Connecticut) won consecutive sections of
intermediate flat. Johnson, Maher and Snell went
back-to-back-to-back with blue ribbons, giving the Huskies
four of the first six blue ribbons of the day.
In total contrast to the 2010-11 season when UConn moved
into first place overall during the second show and never
relinquished the top spot, the Huskies were in first place
overall only once in 2011-12 headed into the tenth and
final regular season show on March 10th. UConn tied
Connecticut College for first on opening day with 34 points
each, and following the third show the entire region had been
trying to catch front-runner Sacred Heart University. The
Pioneers won the October 16th event they co-hosted with Yale
University to move into first. A week later Sacred Heart
moved way ahead thanks to a perfect 49 score at Windcrest
Farm at Region 5 show number 4. The Pioneers had never been
in first place so late in a season throughout the program's
21 year history. With each passing week Sacred Heart stayed
ahead, though UConn gained ground on occasion to make many
wonder if the Pioneers would hang on for their first
Region Title and Zones appearance.
Up by only ten points following the Wesleyan show on
February 11th the Pioneers gained two points on the Huskies a
week later and four more on February 25th to set up today's
situation. Win or only lose to UConn by 15 points or less
and a trip to Zone 2 Zones (hosted by Skidmore College) on
April 7th would be in the cards.
|UConn riders won five of the first eight classes of the day while Sacred Heart had not one blue ribbon.
However Taylor DiBella (on right, with Head Coach Tiffany Hajdasz) broke the drought with a first in novice flat.
Alison Brosky (not pictured) won the novice flat section which followed. These wins marked the turning point of today's
Yet when Brittney Parker (freshman, Hilton Head
Island, South Carolina) won the first of three sections of
novice flat for the Huskies the Pioneer faithful had to be
concerned that the home team could earn a 49 score just
like Sacred Heart had done during the fall. With Zone 2,
Region 5 using an unorthodox method of posting the team
points (riders names are not listed. Following the
completion of each division someone is suppossed to write
in exactly how many points each team received in that
particular division) the audience knew that UConn had
firsts in both open and intermediate flat for 14 points
while Sacred Heart had only six combined. It was not yet
known if Parker was UConn's point rider in novice flat.
Sacred Heart finally earned a blue ribbon when Taylor
DiBella (freshman, Holmdel, New Jersey) won section 3B of
novice flat. The question on the minds of many was if
DiBella or teammate Alison Brosky was the point rider.
Fortunately for the Pioneers Brosky (freshman,
Manhassett, New York) proceeded to win the following
section of novice flat. Sacred Heart had held serve (if
not better) in a division for the first time on this day.
As is the norm at shows held inside Horsebarn Hill
Arena the flat classes are completed in their entirety
before the fences classes. Therefore two sections of
advanced walk-trot-canter came next. UConn then appeared
to go on the offensive again, as Ashlee Reinert
(sophomore, Tolland, Connecticut) and Lindsay Parshall
(junior, Monroe, Connecticut) won both of these classes.
However for scoreboard watchers the mystery remained.
No one updated the points for either novice flat or
advanced walk-trot-canter at this time. One section of
beginner walk-trot-canter followed. Neither the Huskies
nor the Pioneers won this one, though with Maggie Vogel
second anyone with a program knew that Sacred Heart had
earned precisely five points. The Pioneers' only other
rider in the walk-trot-canter divisions, Taylor Robbins,
had placed second to Reinert in section 2B-A.
Walk-Trot closed out the official classes before the
lunch break. Members of the Sacred Heart team seemed
much more relaxed after Amelia Skerys (junior, Sag
Harbor, New York) won the lone section made up of eight
riders. With the UConn rider third in the class this
was at least a pick-up of three points for the
Pioneers, provided that Skerys was the point rider. As
the lunch break began the audience was still in the dark.
The point sheets continued to list the results of the
first two divisions only.
|Riders from UConn and Sacred Heart were so dominant during the flat classes that only four riders from other schools
earned blue ribbons in that time. One such winner was Madalena Henning of Wesleyan University. Henning (on left) poses with Coach Ally
Butler after winning the third of three sections of intermediate flat.
It was not until the jumps were already out and much of
the schooling was completed that the point sheets were
updated. At least one of the two divisions in which UConn
had a first had not yielded seven points but rather five.
Sacred Heart had earned a first (via Brosky it was later
learned) in novice flat. All in all it appeared that
through five flat divisions the Huskies had gained eight
points accounting for the drop scores already on the board
(which could and did change). Sacred Heart had a fifth
that stood to be their drop score for the entire day. In
any event UConn would need to make up eight more points
over three divisions to force a tie for the season.
Should UConn force a tie - and earn high point team
honors for the day - the Huskies would have the tiebreaker
which would be "Most times as high point team" with five
(this would include their tie with Conn College on
opening day - Editor). For the moment UConn's point sheet
indicated three firsts, a second and a third while Sacred
Heart's sheet displayed a first, a second, two fourths and
a fifth in plain english.
Following the over fences portion of the 'Coaches
Class' (more on this later) the first of three sections of
open fences took place. Mallory Taylor (freshman,
Lexington, Connecticut) won the class to give Trinity
College their second blue ribbon of the day. Johnson of
the Huskies was second, and though it was unclear if she
was the point rider it was certain that she would was
bound for Raleigh. For the second season in a row Johnson
will represent Region 5 at Nationals in the Cacchione Cup
Competition. Johnson's red ribbon raised her year-to-date
point total to 97, eight ahead of teammate Bernier who was
closest entering the contest.
The next section of open fences was pretty much the
clincher for Sacred Heart. Abbie Britton, a senior from
Hoover, Alabama needed to win the class outright to
qualify for Regionals in the division. Though she faced
stiff competition from Bernier and Fairfield University's
Catherine McIntyre, Britton won an over fences class for
the first time all season to secure a second ride at
Regionals (two weeks earlier Britton was second in open
fences for the first time this season. Through eight
shows Britton had but 16 points in open fences). Britton
was in fact the point rider and with Bernier second it
seemed likely that unless the remaining Pioneer riders
were out of the ribbons a trip to Skidmore seemed likely.
|Julia Barnett of Central Connecticut State University (second on right) poses with her parents and an aunt (at far left) after winning her
intermediate fences class. For a while the junior from Windsor, Connecticut was in the running for high point rider. CCSU finished fifth for the day with
However the audience didn't know that Britton was the
point rider so many were still under the impression that
UConn had a fair chance. The third section was won by
Katie Lynch of Connecticut College (junior, South
Dartmouth, Massachusetts) while Jocelyn Alfieri of
Sacred Heart was second. Devan Beaulieu was fourth for
the Pioneers in the same section. After having won
seven of the first 12 official classes of the day UConn
had now gone five classes in a row without a first.
Only two sections of intermediate fences were held
(it should be noted many schools were on spring break,
while Sacred Heart and UConn had the vast majority of
their rosters in attendance). For only the second time
today back-to-back winners came from schools other than
the leaders, as Julia Barnett of Central Connecticut
State was first in section A. A junior from Windsor,
Connecticut, Barnett finished one place ahead of
Catherine Read of Trinity College while riders from
UConn and Sacred Heart were no higher than fifth.
Trinity made it two straight as Annie Gardner won
section B. The freshman from Garden City, New York made
it a sweep for the school from Hartford, Connecticut
known for its' Squash program. Juliana Lavoie of
Fairfield University was second, which marked the third
time today that a member of the Stags had earned a red
ribbon. Allie Buccos of Sacred Heart was third for the
Pioneers' top ribbon in intermediate fences on this day.
There was a schooling break prior to the day's final
division, novice fences. During this schooling break
the points were updated. It turned out that UConn had
not earned any points in intermediate flat, giving the
Huskies a natural 'zero' drop score. The Huskies'
points in the other six divisions added to 35. Sacred
Heart had a drop score of one point, which when removed
gave them 27. At this point it was safe to say that
Sacred Heart had made history, earning their first
Region Title since the program was formed in 1991 (if
someone can show us that Sacred Heart participated in
IHSA shows prior to the spring of 1991 please step
forward - Editor). It appeared UConn could win by as
much as 42-28 but this would not be enough to offset
the Pioneers' 16 point lead.
|Jen Dorfman of Trinity College (on right, with Coach Amy Kriwitsky) was a winner in open flat. Riders from schools other than Sacred Heart or
UConn accounted for only eight of the 22 undergraduate blue ribbons awarded. Trinity riders won three classes which helped the team to third place and 27 points.
At this moment there were several ride-off scenarios on
the table. Three riders (Johnson, Bernier and Barnett)
each had a first and a second. Brenna Daly of UConn was
second to DiBella in novice flat and had another ride
coming up. Brosky, Parker and Madalena Henning of
Wesleyan University (freshman, Palo Alto, California) each
had won earlier and would be riding again. With Henning
and Brosky both in section A of novice fences there was a
chance that up to six riders could finish the day with a
first and a second while other combinations existed to
create a ride-off for reserve if necessary.
Just as there had been delays in updating the team
points there was a flaw in the system regarding the
announcing of results. Each of the three novice fences
classes was completed without any results being announced.
As soon as the final rider in section A was finished the
first rider in section B was sent in. The same thing
happened at the end of section B. When section C ended
the results of each of three classes was announced.
Brosky won section A, insuring no worse than being part of
a ride-off for high point. Daly (freshman, Shrewsbury,
Massachusetts) won section B and Parker won section C.
With Parker having also won earlier both Brosky and Parker
were summoned to the announcer's booth to draw horses for
the ride-off. Johnson, Bernier, Daly and Barnett were
off the hook at the last minute.
The ride-off was not business as usual. Parker's horse
decided to buck her off about three minutes in. Some in
the crowd were noticably worried as there was quite a
noise when Parker hit the ground. However Parker got up
without any help a short time later. There was no request
for a re-ride so Parker was reserve and Brosky high point
rider for the day.
The novice fences results did add seven points to the
UConn total, giving the Huskies 42 for the day which was
also their highest total at any of the ten 2011-12 shows.
Brosky's win in section A had also given Sacred Heart
seven more points. The Pioneers finished the day with 34
points, enough for Reserve High Point Team honors but more
importantly more than enough to claim first place overall
for the year. Many will remember that Sacred Heart
scored 49 points at one fall show which in the end was the
difference. However it should be noted that the Pioneers
were ultimately the most consistant team, scoring between
30 and 37 points at all but two shows (when they scored 41
and 49). Sacred Heart was the only team in the region to
score 30 or more points at all ten shows.
|Alison Brosky (bending down to the left of the team banner) was high point rider for the day while Sacred Heart University was
high point team for the year. Coached by Tiffany Hajdasz (who is wearing a helmet behind the banner on the right hand side as she was entered in
the coaches classes), the Pioneers will send a full hunter seat team to Zone 2 Zones for the first time. Sacred Heart will face off against St.
Lawrence University, Cornell University, host Skidmore College and the to be determined winner from Zone 2, Region 4 in a five-way team
competition on April 7th. The top two teams in this competition will advance to IHSA Nationals May 3rd through 6th in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Don't forget us: There were a few other riders not
mentioned so far in this article who also earned top-two
ribbons. Rachel Anderson was second to Bernier in open
flat and had Central Connecticut State's best ribbon
until Barnett's second in intermediate flat and first in
open fences. Jennifer Clayton of CCSU was also a red
ribbon winner, finishing second to Parker in the last
regular season class of 2011-12. McIntyre of Fairfield
was second in her open flat class and finished tied for
third in the Region 5 Cacchione race. Stags freshman
Claire Kelley was second to Snell in intermediate flat.
Jen Dorfman (sophomore, Brooklyn, New York) provided
Trinity with their first blue ribbon of the day when she
won the third section of open flat. Alexa Parsons of
Trinity was second to Johnson in the fourth section.
Trinity finished third for the day with 27 points in
spite of not having a walk-trot rider entered. Eden
Engle-Rebitzer of Wesleyan University was second to Daly
in novice fences while Margaret Seldin was second to
Skerys in walk-trot. Wesleyan's 23 points was fourth out
of eight teams entered. Several other UConn riders were
red ribbon winners. Former Mount Holyoke College rider
Bobbie Bigelow was second to Dorfman in open flat.
Allie Doolan was second to Parker in novice flat while
Courtney Pelletier was second to Parshall in advanced
walk-trot-canter (these were the only times today when a
team earned first and second in the same section of a
division - Editor). Bethany Sullivan was second to
Brosky in novice flat and Stephanie Heinbockel was second
to Brosky in novice fences. Nicole D'Agostino came off
her horse in section 5A but was given a re-ride in 5C.
The Sacred Heart senior was then second to Henning.
Melissa Groher of Connecticut College (senior, South
Glastonbury, Connecticut) won the second section of open
flat. Groher finished tied for third in the Cacchione
race with McIntyre at 86 points each. Caroline Ruby
(sophomore, Bronxville, New York) won the lone section of
beginner walk-trot-canter. Likely due to spring break
depleating their roster, Connecticut College finished the
day with only 12 points despite three blue ribbons. This
allowed Trinity to clearly finish ahead of the Camels for
third place overall in the Region 5 2011-12 team
More Trinity trivia: Both Gardner and Dorfman train
at Rice Farms in Old Brookville, New York. Both wound up
at Trinity College totally by coincidence.
What Else?: Post University also took part at today's
show. While none of their riders placed first or second,
Carly Puzacke was third in the open flat class which
Dorfman won. Post finished the day with 18 points. Both
Yale University and the United States Coast Guard
Academy were not in attendance. Yale was on spring
break while the Coast Guard may or many not have been
cleared to leave the base for today's show.
|A rare IHSA Coaches' class (or classes) took place on March 10th. From left to right are Ally Butler,
Tiffany Hajdasz, Alena Meachem, Naomi Gauruder and Heather Johnson, who won both the flat and fences classes which were on either
side of the lunch break. The entry fees for the division benefited the memory of Randy Knight, who was the Livestock Manager at
the University of Connecticut for some time.
Let's play dress-up today!: Five of the eight Region
5 coaches present at today's show took part in two
Coaches Classes (one on the flat and one over fences).
Entered were Elena Meachem, the Head Coach of the
University of Connecticut; Ally Butler, who is officially
the new Head Coach at Wesleyan though the team still
trains at Windcrest Farm which former Head Coach Armand
Chenelle owns; Naomi Gauruder, the Fairfield Head Coach;
Heather Johnson, the Post University Head Coach, and
Tiffany Hajdasz, Head Coach of the new region champion
Sacred Heart. Hajdasz is the only coach in this group
to have not competed in the IHSA as an undergraduate.
The coaches' classes were to benefit the late Randy
Knight. Knight was the Livestock Manager at UConn for
some time who passed away suddenly (There will be a
bench in his honor). Judge Shaina Humphrey knew that
these were coaches classes and decided to have some fun
with everyone during the flat class. Towards the end
Humphrey made all the coaches work without their stirups
and even made everyone halt and turn on the forehand.
Johnson, who rode for her alma matter only six seasons
ago, won both classes while Meachem was second over
fences and Butler (who was Ally Titcomb class of '04 at
Colby-Sawyer College) was second on the flat (this is the
first time this writer saw an entire coaches class dress
properly for such an event since 1997 IHSA Nationals, and
that class had both English and western Coaches entered -
Editor). It is worth noting that Trinity Coach Amy
Kriwitsky did not take part since she is already an
active alumni rider (there were no alumni classes today
because all four alumni riders are already qualified for
Regionals in both divisions) while Connecticut College
Head Coach Richard Luckhardt declined based on time out
of the seat of late. CCSU Head Coach Kayla Blanchette
was not in attendance, nor was USCGA Coach Tina Bove or
Yale Coach Erin Klemyk. Though Bove would have likely
excused herself for the same reason Kriwitsky did both
Blanchette and Klemyk would have given Johnson a run for
her money. Perhaps all the coaches will try this again
next season when everyone is present.
A novel idea: Both Zone 1, Region 1 (which used to
contain six of the ten current Connecticut schools) and
Zone 2, Region 5 will utilize Mystic Valley Hunt Club for
Regionals later this month. Region 1 will hold Regionals
there on March 24th while Region 5 will do so a week
later on the 31st. According to Luckhardt it was
arranged that Leslie Woodworth would judge Region 1 last
season while Barbara Fillipelli would judge Region 5 a
week later. In 2012 the two New York Metro area Judges
will swap regions for Regionals, with Woodworth judging
Region 5 and Fillipelli judging Region 1, again with both
at Mystic Valley. Apparently Johnson & Wales Head Coach
Dirk Fogg told Luckhardt that things went well last
season with this arrangement so it would be tried again
Show Incidentals: Sunny skies, with temperatures reaching
the middle '40's. Entire show held indoors. Start time:
9:14AM. Finish: 4:22PM - Includes a one hour lunch break
and two separate schooling breaks totaling 49 minutes.
Coaches and Captains meeting held prior to start of show.
Point cards posted in this region? Yes but without rider's
names. Alumni classes held in this region? Yes but not on
this day. Judge: Shaina Humphrey. Stewards:
Gauruder/Fairfield University, Hajdasz/Sacred Heart
University and Johnson/Post University.
Team Totals: University of Connecticut (High Point Team)
42; Sacred Heart University (Reserve) 34; Trinity College 27;
Wesleyan University 23; Central Connecticut State University
21; Fairfield University 19; Post University 18 and
Connecticut College 12.
High Point Rider - Alison Brosky, Sacred Heart University
Reserve High Point Rider - Brittney Parker, University of Connecticut