It almost looks like last year's Western Alumni Tournament as Kimberly King (third on left wearing red) is a blue ribbon winner. From left to right are Rebecca Folk, Kaity Arthur, King, Peggy Leonowich-Graham, Betsy Vogt and Andrea LaManque following the awarding of ribbons in the Advanced Western Horsemanship division at the 2015 Alumni Tournament of Champions in Stevenson, Maryland. King won multiple times at the 2014 western tourney and was a double-blue winner again on this day. But she did not repeat as the Alumni Cup winner.


(Editor's Note: If you read this article when it was originally posted there was a paragraph which described the events of the advanced alumni flat division. However Campus Equestrian would like to retract our account of the class, as it has been brought to our attention that some of the information we posted is incorrect. We would like to formally apologize to Judge Ellen Shevella, a USEF judge since 1981, for any misinformation related to the description of the division.)

Stevenson, MD - Since the first Alumni Tournament of Champions was held in July of 2012 the event has done nothing but grow. For the first time the Alumni Tournament combined both hunter seat and western classes at the same location on the same day, with St. Timothy's School in the Baltimore suburb of Stevenson, Maryland hosting the competition on June 14th.

However there was a pre-show exhibitor's party the evening before, where a few ribbons were given out before anyone even set foot in the ring(s). Held at Mount Washington Tavern (technically in Baltimore) a red ribbon was first presented to 2014 Hobart & William Smith College graduate Elizabeth Boghosian while a blue ribbon was then awarded to 2014 Saginaw Valley State graduate Caitlin Arthur. Known as 'Katy,' Arthur was the overall "High Score" award-winner as the rider with the most alumni points nationwide during the regular season over her best seven shows. Arthur rode strictly in the western divisions while Boghosian rode strictly hunter seat. Known as 'Liz,' Boghosian was the runner-up. Alumni Touranment co-founder Lena Andrews decided to create this award prior to the 2014-15 season and knowning full well that some regions hold more shows than others Andrews used the seven show criteria as not to penalize those who showed fewer times than others.

On the day of the show there was a threat of rain for the late afternoon and it did in fact rain in the area over an hour after the show was completed. The show itself was held under sunny skies for the hunter seat riders, with occasional omminus clouds. The western classes were held in the St. Tims indoor where weather was not a factor save for the temperature. The mercury rose well into the 80's while the humidity was off the charts, making some of the classes endurace tests that would superceed the testing most alumni go through at your typical IHSA Nationals event.

Ashton Phillips (third on right) had a great quip when his student Katie Schaaf (third from left) beat him by one place in the Advanced Flat division. "I would rather be beaten in the ring by one of my own students than someone elses!" Former Tufts rider Schaaf was one of three riders from Zone 1 to win a class at the 2015 tourney.

Starting at 9:22AM with former State University of New York at Cobbleskill rider Lee Levine entering the ring for the 2'3" fences and ending at 4:08PM with the announcement of the placings in the Alumni Cup division this was the longest of the Alumni Tourney events to date, though there were in fact several new classes held in 2015 not to mention the ever-improving turnout.

Andrews and Jamie Windle, who together put on the event, had restricted entries in past seasons to alumni who actually showed at least one time in the alumni divisions at an IHSA show during the season leading up to the Alumni post-season event. This time there were two new divisions to bring those who didn't show alumni this past season to the table. The "Reunion" divisions were introduced, which are made up of riders who did NOT show during the 2014-15 IHSA season but who did in fact show alumni as undergraduates prior to this season. Conversly IHSA riders who were Seniors during the 2014-15 season were invited to enter the "Future" divisions. The Future sections were designed to get riders who had recently graduated but had yet to show alumni into the alumni event, and also hopefully to get these riders interested in showing alumni at future IHSA shows. While the Reunion divisions were limited to flat and fences, namely hunter seat, the Future divisions were flat, fences, horsemanship and reining. It is hoped that the Reunion divisions will include horsemanship and reining at future Alumni Touranment events.

There were six riders in the 2'3" fences division that started the event. One of the most dedicated alumni riders finally received a top two ribbon at an alumni tournament event. Kristin Van Derlaske, who competed for Longwood University as an undergraduate in the earliest 2000's, had finished out of the top six the past two seasons but was reserve champion this time. 1997 Virginia Tech graduate Katie Gehrt (who was Katie Younger as an undergraduate) had placed fourth in the division one year ago and moved up to the top ribbon today. Gehrt had recently placed fifth in alumni flat and seventh in alumni fences at 2015 IHSA Nationals in West Springfield, Massachusetts May 1st and 2nd. This would not be the last time today that Gerht would receive a blue ribbon.

Because so many IHSA riders make the jump from novice to intermediate at some point during their maximum eight semesters the 2'6" fences is always a much larger class at the Alumni Tournament. At least 16 riders mounted up for the division (which was actually a smaller number than one year ago when over 20 were entered). Eventually two riders making their alumni tourney debuts had the top ribbons. With her parents watching from under one of the many tents Boghosian received her second red ribbon in as many days while University of Connecticut graduate Tara Matthews was champion. Known as Tara Lynch while an undergrad, Matthews took some time away from the IHSA to get married and have a baby (who was also watching from under one of the tents) and had a most successful season riding alumni in the IHSA. Matthews was sixth at Nationals in alumni fences and the reserve national champion in alumni flat.

From left to right are Chelsea Day, Christie Davis, Brittany McGoldrick and Allison Akers, each of whom showed for the University of Maryland as undergraduates. Seen here long before the show started, three of these former Equiterps would earn a top three ribbon in the inaugural hunter seat Reunion classes. Akers would win both of these Reunion divisions, which were made up of riders who had not shown alumni within the IHSA during the 2014-15 season.

While the 2'6 alumni fences was in progress the Alumni Western divisions started indoors. Because this writer tried to be in two places at the same time he is not 100 percent certain if the first western class was Alumni Horsemanship. Based on the fact that this division is referred to as 'Class 9' in the program and that the other western classes have higher numbers the results from that class will be discussed first. The class of five remarkably was made up of riders from five different IHSA regions. Lea Levine had already placed fourth in 2'3" fences and the S.U.N.Y. - Cobleskill graduate moved up to second here. Former Ohio University rider Sarah Todak was a returnee from the first Alumni Western tournament last season, having placed second in the division at Red Wing Farm in Hilltown, Pennsylvania ten months earlier. Todak was the first western rider to win a blue ribbon on this day.

The Future Alumni Cup Horsemanship Phase was to follow but was delayed as one of the three riders entered, Kayleigh McDonnell of Stonehill College, was dressed in hunter seat apparel and mounted on a horse waiting for her turn to compete in the Future Alumni Fences. Though both of the other riders were mounted and ready for the division the class was put on hold and another western class was then moved up.

The Advanced Horsemanship division featured six riders, including two holdovers from the division in 2014. Rebecca Folk of Lafayette College had won the division last year, and had most recently won the alumni reining class at 2015 IHSA Nationals. This time Folk was only fourth. University of Tennessee at Knoxville graduate Kimberly King was second in the division in 2014 and she too had shown alumni reining at Nationals. Though she received a re-ride in West Springfield King was sixth in the reining class. Peggy Leonowich - Graham, a 1984 graduate of the United States Military Academy, placed second in advanced western horsemanship. It was Leonwich - Graham's first appearance at an Alumni Tournament event. Moving up from her second in August of '14 to a first in June of '15 was King, who was the Alumni Cup Champion in the inaugural western tourney last season. King was entered in both phases of the alumni cup at today's show. Would the former Volunteer repeat?

The next class in either ring where an actual ribbon was to be awarded following the division was the first-ever Reunion Fences. 13 riders, some of which had never shown in an IHSA regular season alumni class, took part. Considering the show was held in the state of Maryland it was nice that the University of Maryland was well represented in this class, with four of the entries. By Coincidence two of the four eventually were awarded the top two ribbons. Brittany McGoldrick, a 2010 graduate, was the reserve champion while Allison Akers, who like her former teammate McGoldrick was also a 2010 graduate, was champion. Akers appeared to be the first hunter seat rider of the day to have the same last name as both an undergraduate and at today's show to win a blue ribbon. Though the school nickname for their athletic teams is the 'Terps' they have been know as the 'Equiterps' since the days when Emmie Prettyman coached the team starting in the 1990's. Akers would not be the only former Equiterp into the top three before the day was over.

The next hunter seat division was the jumping phase of the alumni cup. With no ribbon to be awarded after all 15 riders were to go this writer turned his attention to the indoor, where he had missed a few things. Several Reining Classes had come and gone, with the following results explained...

I have seen the future! Well how about the top two in the hunter seat Future Alumni Cup division at the Alumni Tournament? As luck would have it, the top two came from the same team. 2015 Stonehill College graduates Danielle Franchi (on left) and Kayleigh McDonnell finished first and second, respectively in the english future alumni cup. McDonnell also rode in the western Alumni Cup, placing third. The Alumni Cup is a new class, designed specifically for members of the most recent graduating class who had yet to show alumni in an IHSA show.

The Future Alumni Cup Reining class had been completed. McDonnell, who had never shown IHSA western as an undergraduate because her region did not offer it, was third with a combined score of "164" in the two phases. Former University of Delaware rider Kelly Corcoran was second with a combined score of "170" while the champion ribbon went to Rebecca Struck of Clemson University. Strunk, who represented Zone 5, Region 3 in the 2015 IHSA Nationals individual AQHA High Point Rider divisions, and who played a large part in the rise of the Clemson western program, edged Corcoran with a combined "173" score to win the inaugural Future Western class.

The Reining Divisions were broken into "Alumni Reining" and "Advanced Alumni Reining" (not unlike 2'3" and 2'6" fences). Six riders showed in Alumni Reining though only five received ribbons. Andrea LaManque, who graduated from Morrisville State College and who had placed sixth in the division one year earlier, was reserve champion. LaManque would show in the reunion flat later in the day, marking her first time ever in an IHSA-related event as a hunter seat rider (LaManque would place fourth in that much larger division). Todak went unbeaten for the day, winning the Alumni Reining. Four riders took place in Advanced Alumni Reining, with Folk fourth, Arthur third, Central Connecticut State University graduate and coach Kayla Blanchette reserve champion (in her alumni tournament debut) and King the Champion.

The final Western class was pinned at 12:50PM eastern time. This was the multi-phased Alumni Cup Championship, and the results were unique in one very specific way. Results throughout the day were read in reverse order, similar to how it is usually done at Zones, Semifinals and Nationals. Therefore the audience learned first that Blanchette was sixth out of seven riders in the cup competition. Fifth place was a TIE(!) as judge Dotty Orzechowski determined that both King and 1985 Cazenovia College graduate Bryan Bradley had the same combined reining and rail scores. Bradley, who is the assistant coach at Villanova University, and who brought a few horses, had filled in at the final spring 2015 show in Zone 3, Region 3/4/5 to make a horsemanship class legal. Those were Bradley's only appearances in IHSA-related shows during 2014-15. LaManque was fourth and Folk third. 2014 Mount Holyoke College graduate Emily Murch received a third in Alumni Horsemanship at IHSA Nationals on May 1st and 45 days later improved on that effort with a Reserve Champion ribbon in the Cup classes. And Arthur, who had more points than anyone else over her top seven shows and who won the Alumni Western class at Nationals, capped off her spectacular season with a first in the Alumni Cup class.

It's the top six in the Western Alumni Cup and there are seven riders. What's up with that? There was a tie in the scoring system for fifth place, so the ribbon was given out to two riders. From left to right are Bryan Bradley (fifth place), Kimberly King (also fifth place), Rebecca Folk (third place), Kaity Arthur (grand champion), Emily Murch (reserve champion), Andrea LaManque (fourth) and Kayla Blanchette (sixth). Each of these riders showed in a rail phase and a reining phase with the scores combined to determine the winner.

While the Western classes had been completed in less than four hours time the five Hunter Seat flat divisions had yet to begin. After over an hour of schooling the Reunion Flat class of 19 riders got underway. The largest class of the day included at least 11 riders who were showing in an IHSA-related event for the first time since they were undergraduates. One of them was 1979 University of Bridgeport graduate Jeanette Mundhenk, who showed for a unique reason. Mundhenk, who was Jeanette Bobik as an undergraduate, considers herself a second mother to former Rutgers University rider Caitlin Doran (who won the Alumni Flat class and finished second in the Alumni Cup at the 2014 alumni tournament in Long Valley, New Jersey). Doran had perhaps her best IHSA season to date (alumni or undergraduate), finishing with a fourth in Alumni Fences at 2015 Nationals on May 1st. Doran wanted to compete in the alumni tournament but a previous commitment prevented this. Mundhenk, who started the Bridgeport team (which sadly went on for only one more season after she graduated), wanted to represent her 'daughter' at the show. Mundhenk looked better and better as the class went on, but was not one of the six riders asked to remain in the ring for further testing. Three of the four University of Maryland riders did make the cut, and two of them made the top three. 2009 Maryland graduate Christie Davis placed third while Alyssa Berfield was the reserve champion. Berfield became the first rider in alumni tournament history to have been an NCEA rider prior to showing in such an event. Berfield rode under coach K.C. Meadows for two seasons at Longwood University (2009-11) before transfering to Delaware State University and competing on that schools' NCEA/Varsity team (this also made Berfield the second former Longwood rider without a Longwood degree to earn a red ribbon. Van Derlaske later graduated from George Mason University but did not ride IHSA at that time). Already a winner in the first Reunion Fences division, Akers cornered the market on Futures blue ribbons awarded to hunter seat riders on the day. Akers win made her the third rider of the day english or western to win not once but twice.

Four of the six riders from the 2'3" fences were back for the Alumni Flat class. Former Bridewater College rider Kayla Deyarmin had finished third in 2'3" fences but moved up a ribbon to reserve champion status. Gerht made it two-for-two as she won the alumni flat and became the fifth and final rider of the day to win twice. This also meant that four of five blue ribbons awarded to hunter seat riders so far went to riders who showed in Zone 4 as both graduates and undergraduates.

Though the Future Alumni Cup Flat took place immediately afterward the results were announced before those for the Alumni Flat (the Alumni Flat and Alumni Cup results were announced at the end of the day). Seven riders from seven different regions were represented in the flat phase. McDonnell, riding for the fourth time today (and having to go from english to western and back to english apparel) was reserve champion. Just as University of Maryland riders had the top two spots in Future Alumni Fences Stonehill riders could claim the top two in the future Alumni Cup totals. Danielle Franchi of the Sky Hawks was the inaugural hunter seat Future Alumni Cup winner.

The Alumni Cup Flat Phase took longer than expected to complete, not so much for the prolonged testing of six riders but rather for confusion over who was called back to test. Two riders were intitally called back that were in fact not supposed to be, and once the situation was clarified the class continued. This turned out to be the only division of the day where ribbons were awarded below sixth place. Jessie Ann Bolash, who was listed in the program as from Hofstra University but was listed in the IHSA Nationals program as from Illinois State University a few weeks earlier when she was eighth in alumni flat, received the eighth place ribbon again today (Bolash rode for Hofstra but later transfered to Illinois State where she graduated in 2014). Seventh went to Emily Kiessling of Ripon College, who like Bolash showed in Zone 7, Region 4 this past season. Schaaf was sixth while Rachael Lallier of High Point University was fifth. Like Mundhenk earlier Lallier started an IHSA team at her school when she was an undergraduate there. Amanda Horn of Stonehill College, who had placed third in Alumni Flat, was fourth. Matthews, who won what seemed like several days earlier due to the heat, was third. Riders from Zone 3 schools had the top two ribbons as Maggie Gordon of Lehigh University was second and Megan Mendenhall of Wilson College was the 2015 hunter seat Alumni Cup Champion. Mendenhall, who graduated from Wilson in 1999 but who had not shown in Wilson's region for alumni appeared to make history as the first Non-IHSA Coach to win the hunter seat Alumni Cup. Amy Kriwitsky (the Trinity College coach) won it in 2012, Heather Johnson (who had been the coach at Post University for a few seasons up to that moment) won in 2013 and Villanova head coach Sara McCoy Palmer had won it last season. However upon asking Mendenhall how it felt to be the first non-coach to win she said that was not in fact the case. In April someone involved with Wilson offerred Mendenhall the chance to coach her alma matter and she accepted. Because Mendenhall had already in effect started at Wilson the statistic remains intact. Mendenhall also said she plans to show alumni in Zone 3, Region 1 (Wilson's region) for the first time when the 2015-16 season gets underway.

While Jim Arrigon's Tournament of Champions series has been around for 24 years the Alumni Tournament Series won't turn five until next summer. The fourth rider to win the hunter seat Alumni Cup is former Wilson College rider and current Wilson coach Megan Mendenhall (center, between alumni tournament organizers Lena Andrews on right and Jamie Windle on left). Hopefully Mendenhall rides in the Cup class again next season, as none of the previous three winners has returned to defend their championship honor.

A polite plea on behalf of Jessie Ann Bolash: Bolash said she is moving to Indiana prior to the start of the 2015-16 season and would really like to continue riding alumni within the IHSA. At the time of the alumni tournament Bolash was unsure if this would happen. Bolash reached out to several individuals involved with Zone 7, Region 1 (most of Indiana and some of Illinois) to find out about alumni in their region. At the time of writing only Bolash and one other person were interested in showing Hunter Seat Alumni in that geographic region. For a class to be legal (i.e. for the points to count) there must be at least three in the class. Therefore I thought I would ask on Bolash's behalf if there is anyone in Indiana or Central Eastern Illinois who rode in the IHSA as an undergraduate who might be interested in showing hunter seat in the alumni divisions within Zone 7, Region 1 this coming season? The idea behind the Alumni Tournament is to create more interest in showing Alumni during the regular season and it is hoped that interested parties will go to the official IHSA website (, visit the alumni links and sign up to potentially show not only in Zone 7, Region 1 to help the enthusiastic Bolash but to show in all parts of the country where alumni is offerred as well.

Though the heat will be memorable the camaraderie of the Alumni on this weekend will be remembered even longer. So many had such a great time both at the show and the reception the evening before. More ribbons were awarded than ever before and many made new friends who will hopefully turn up a year from now at the 2016 Alumni Tournament of Champions. It is not certain where the show will be held (though one location that would take the event further south is in contention) but regardless the format has proven to be more successful with each passing season and will likely keep growing in numbers. Andrews and Windle deserve a round of applause for making this event such an enjoyable one.

--Steve Maxwell

Show Incidentals: Mostly sunny skies, with clouds later in the day. Temperatures in the high '80's with high humidity. Start time: 9:22AM. Finish: 4:08PM - includes multiple schooling breaks. There was also a pre-show meeting of all riders and the organizers. Hunter Seat Judge: Ellen Shevella. Western Judge: Dotty Orzechowski.

The Class-by-Class Results, starting with Western Divisions followed by Hunter Seat or English Divisions:

Alumni Horsemanship: 1. Sarah Todak, Ohio University. 2. Lee Levine, State University of New York at Cobleskill. 3. Christa Bramberger, State University of New York at Cobleskill. 4. Emily Murch, Mount Holyoke College. 5. Kayla Blanchette, Central Connecticut State University.

Advanced Horsemanship: 1. Kimberly King, University of Tennessee at Knoxville. 2. Peggy Leonowich - Graham, United States Military Academy. 3. Caitlin Arthur, Saginaw Valley State University. 4. Betsy Vogt, Delaware Valley College. 5. Rebecca Folk, Lafayette College. 6. Andrea LaManque, Morrisville State College.

Alumni Reining: 1. Sarah Todak, Ohio University. 2. Andrea LaManque, Morrisville State College. 3. Betsy Vogt, Delaware Valley College. 4. Lee Levine, State University of New York at Cobleskill. 5. Emily Murch, Mount Holyoke College.

Advanced Alumni Reining: 1. Kimberly King, University of Tennessee at Knoxville. 2. Kayla Blanchette, Central Connecticut State University. 3. Caitlin Arthur, Saginaw Valley State University. 4. Rebecca Folk, Lafayette College.

IHSA Alumni Director Megan Taylor (Center) is seen here with Caitlin "Kaity" Arthur (on left) and Elizabeth "Liz" Boghosian at a pre-show exhibitors' party on June 13th. Arthur received the High Score Award for the most points of any IHSA Alumni Rider, english or western, over a riders' seven best shows during the 2014-15 season. While Arthur's points were in the western division, runner-up Boghosian rode only in the hunter seat divisions representing her alma matter, Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Western Future Alumni Cup (combined reining and rail phases): 1. Rebekah Stunk, Clemson University. 2. Kelly Corcoran, University of Delaware. 3. Kayleigh McDonnell, Stonehill College.

Western Alumni Cup (combined reining and rail phases): 1. Caitlin Arthur, Saginaw Valley State University. 2. Emily Murch, Mount Holyoke College. 3. Rebecca Folk, Lafayette College. 4. Andrea LaManque, Morrisville State College. 5. TIE between Kimberly King, University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Bryan Bradley, Cazenovia College. 6. Kayla Blanchette, Central Connecticut State University.

2'3" Fences: 1. Katie Gehrt, Virginia Tech. 2. Kristin Van Derlaske, Longwood University. 3. Kayla Deyarmin, Bridgewater College. 4. Lee Levine, State University of New York at Cobleskill. 5. Caroline Leeth, Virginia Tech. 6. Katie Peach, Bridgewater College.

2'6" Fences: 1. Tara Matthews, University of Connecticut. 2. Elizabeth Boghosian, Hobart & William Smith Colleges. 3. Elizabeth Corkett, Rice University. 4. Megan Mendenhall, Wilson College. 5. Kristie Swift, Washington College. 6. Rachael Lallier, High Point University.

Reunion Fences: 1. Allison Akers, University of Maryland. 2. Brittany McGoldrick, University of Maryland. 3. Kim Rice, West Chester University. 4. Emily Mallory, Lafayette College. 5. Jess Munyan, University of Delaware. 6. Jen Preston, Cedar Crest College.

Reunion Flat: 1. Allison Akers, University of Maryland. 2. Alyssa Berfield, Longwood University. 3. Christie Davis, University of Maryland. 4. Andrea LaManque, Morrisville State College. 5. Katie Peach, Bridgewater College. 6. Brittany McGoldrick, University of Maryland.

Alumni Flat: 1. Katie Gehrt, Virginia Tech. 2. Kayla Deyarmin, Bridgewater College. 3. Natalie Larson, St. Vincent College. 4. Tracey A. Lightner, Delaware Valley College. 5. Caroline Leeth, Virginia Tech. 6. Kristin Van Derlaske, Longwood University.

Advanced Flat: 1. Katie Schaaf, Tufts University. 2. Ashton Phillips, Virginia Intermont College. 3. Amanda Horn, Stonehill College. 4. Allison Schaitman, Mount Ida College. 5. Rachael Lallier, High Point University. 6. Blanton Goll, West Chester University.

Hunter Seat Future Alumni Cup (combined flat and fences phases): 1. Danielle Franchi, Stonehill College. 2. Kayleigh McDonnell, Stonehill College. 3. Kayleigh Burke, Virginia Tech. 4. Rachel Kleinschmidt, Wilson College. 5. Lauren Blaha, Rutgers University. 6. Alyssa Romisher, Penn State University (State College).

Hunter Seat Alumni Cup (combined flat and fences phases): 1. Megan Mendenhall, Wilson College. 2. Maggie Gordon, Lehigh University. 3. Tara Matthews, University of Connecticut. 4. Amanda Horn, Stonehill College. 5. Rachael Lallier, High Point University. 6. Katie Schaaf, Tufts University. 7. Emily Kiessling, Ripon College. 8. Jessie Ann Bolash, Hofstra University/Illinois State University.


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