From left to right are Coach Kris Shoemaker, freshman Stacie Miller,
senior Dana Vandenbrink, sophomore Becca Payne and Coach Mark Tompkins of the Grand Valley
State hunter seat team. Miller, Vandenbrink and Payne won blue ribbons in each of their
over fences classes to start GVSU on their way to a season-high 44 points on January 12th.
OAKLAND AND (PERHAPS) GRAND VALLEY STATE SET NEW SCHOOL RECORDS WHILE THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN HOLDS SERVE
East Lansing, MI - For years the Michigan IHSA hunter seat programs
competed in the shadow of a dominating team in Zone 6, Region 3 located
in Findlay, Ohio. Routinely among the top three was Otterbein
College, also located in the state known for Indians, Browns, Bengals
and Reds. Otterbein even won Region 3 twice in the late 1990's.
However through good fortune a half dozen teams sprouted up in Michigan
as the 21st century progressed, and thankfully many have grown to the
point where their point cards are routinely full or close to it. As
recently as the 2004-05 season Adrian College, Calvin College, Central
Michigan University, Ferris State University and Oakland University were
not yet competing within the IHSA. Saginaw Valley State University had
previously fielded a team but the program vanished for a few seasons
before being reborn in the fall of 2007. The numbers finally became so
big in Ohio and Michigan that a split was necessary. Although the Zone 6,
Region 4 name existed from 1997 to 2002 (given to a group of schools which
are now found mostly in Zone 9, Region 3), the name was also reborn in the
summer of 2007 to describe the 31st and most recently added IHSA region.
And the easiest way to split it was to make Michigan a region all of its'
Michigan can claim to be the only state in the union where all IHSA
programs are in one single region and in no other states or Canadian
provinces. If you go to school in Michigan and ride in the IHSA you can
rest assured that you will not compete out-of-state during the regular
season nor that you will miss the opportunity to compete against a
Michigan school in another region. And only in this 2007-08 season can
you ride for a Region 4 team which will capture its' first region title ever!
Entering the January 12th Michigan State
show the team in the driver's seat to win their first region title was
the University of Michigan. Coached by Jennifer Blades, the Wolverines
held a 285-266 advantage over second-place Albion College at the start
of the day. The Wolverines had also been among the most consistant,
scoring exactly 35 points at three of the fall shows, while scoring 38
and 42 at the others. Their 42 score at the Grand Valley State show was
also the top score of any Region 4 team to date.
However when you have a new region records are bound to be broken
more often than not, and on this day the Wolverines would see another
program set the new Region 4 season-high. The good news is that the
Wolverines scored 38 again and even widened their lead for high point
team with only one show remaining before Regionals.
|Through the over fences divisions only two teams had any blue ribbons, and
one of them was Oakland. From left are Chrissy Dubay, Molly Disend, Oakland Head Coach
Christopher Ewing, Andrea Zoltek and Katie Krauss. Disend won her open fences, Dubay won her
intermediate fences and Zoltek won her novice fences. Krauss was second in a separate
section of intermediate fences. The Golden Grizzlies went on to score 40 points, which
appears to be the most in the program's three-season history.
Originally to include only one section each of open and intermediate
fences, the decision was made shortly before the show started to split these
divisions so that more riders could earn points and perhaps qualify for
Regionals. Oakland freshman Molly Disend
took advantage of the split. From Rochester, Michigan Disend won her first
IHSA over fences ribbon, also giving the Golden Grizzlies a quick seven
points. The second section went to Grand Valley State sophomore Becca
Payne. From Rochester Hills, Michigan Payne started the day only ten points
out of first place in the Region 4 hunter seat open rider standings.
Temporarily Payne was only six out, trailing the Wolverines' Kevin Stevens
by that many after he finished second to Disend in the first section.
Grand Valley made it back-to-back wins as senior Dana Vandenbrink won
the first section of intermediate fences. Oakland then snapped the GVSU
win streak as Team President and sophomore Chrissy Dubay won the second
intermediate fences section. The third place ribbons in the intermediate
fences were also noteworthy as freshman Kody Turner-Schimmel earned one of
Adrian College's best ribbons of the day in the first section while Michigan State
junior Nicole Sienkiewicz picked up the four points she needed to qualify for
Regionals in the second section.
Oakland made it two in a row via Andrea Zoltek in novice fences. The
Golden Grizzlie freshman won in a field of five to give Oakland 19 points
through three divisions. Just as Oakland had snapped Grand Valley's
winning streak, Stacie Miller returned the favor. The GVSU freshman won
the second section of novice fences, giving her team 21 points and a shot
at a perfect score. However with Oakland only two points behind they too
were technically still in it for a 49 accounting for the drop score.
|Seen here with "Cooper," Michigan State sophomore Patrick Foth was
the only Spartan rider to win a class on January 12th. From Sterling Heights, Michigan,
Foth won the second of three sections of open flat. Foth would also win a blue ribbon
in advanced western horsemanship the next day in the first of two western shows. In
spite of a low blue ribbon total on the 12th, Michigan State earned 33 points and
fourth place for the day.
The first six classes of the day had been completed in 68 minutes. A
45 minute lunch break was to follow. However things began to slow down at
this point. The break was slightly longer than planned, with the decision
made to create additional sections of open and intermediate flat. Then as
the afternoon progressed there were some horses pulled and a few classes
re-ridden. Though some might complain that it took over four and half
hours to hold 17 official flat classes and a ride-off at least everyone
was indoors inside the well-heated Michigan State Pavilion. With seating
on one side of the facility for over 3,000 spectators not to mention
permanent concession stands and rest rooms the Pavilion is one of the
nicest structures this writer has ever seen an IHSA show inside of.
Though often booked years in advance for various functions (many related
to livestock) it would be a truly magnificent place for either Zones or
Semifinals if the opportunity arrises.
Open flat started the afternoon session, with the first "Section A"
rider into the ring at exactly 1:00PM. When the class was finished
Katie Krauss had delivered Oakland's fourth blue ribbon of the day.
A senior from Berkley, Michigan with another year of eligibility
remaining, Krauss was very happy to win the blue after earning a red
ribbon in intermediate fences earlier. The second section finally saw
a rider from the home team win, as Michigan State sophomore Patrick Foth
came out on top. From Sterling Heights, Michigan, Foth entered the day
only five points out of first in the Region 4 open rider standings, and
with a first and a fourth ended the day in the same exact position.
The third section went to Stevens, who added 12 points to his open total
to end the day as Region 4's leading open rider with 55 points. Stevens'
older brother Marshall, who rode in the open division for Grand Valley
State from 2001-05 was one of several former IHSA riders on hand for
today's show. Also visiting was former Michigan State open rider Ashley
Delzer, who could claim to have competed against both Stevens brothers
before graduating in 2006.
Schools without a first up to this point continued to break
through. Ferris State's Ashley Peterson won the first section of
intermediate flat, giving the Bulldogs their only blue ribbon of the
day. The senior from Oxford, Michigan is also the Ferris State team
President and would fair even better at the second Michigan State
western show 24 hours later, earning firsts in both reining and
open horsemanship. Albion sophomore Katherine Ross, who is already
qualified for Regionals in both hunter seat novice divisions, won the
Britons' first blue ribbon of the day in the second section while
University of Michigan senior Leslie Jablonski won the third
section. From the city of Detroit Jablonski pointed out of intermediate
flat, having needed only a fourth or higher to qualify for Regionals.
|Seen here with Head Coach Mia Zetting, Albion's Katherine
Ross (on right) is one of two Briton riders to have qualified for Regionals
in two separate hunter seat divisions. The sophomore from Grosse Pointe,
Michigan is going to Regionals in both novice flat and fences and was also
a winner in intermediate flat on January 12th.
Novice flat was divided into four sections, with Grand Valley
State the winner in two of them. Freshman Kelsey Flanigan won
the first section while another freshman, Libby Benjamin, won the
third. Benjamin had finished second to Zoltek in novice fences and
was one of three riders up to this point with a first and a second.
Inbetween the GVSU triumphs was Aimee Depotter of Albion, already
qualified for Regionals in advanced walk-trot-canter and a winner
in novice flat here. Western Michigan had not been into the blue
ribbons on this day until senior Jennifer Jepkema won the fourth
section. Jepkema also assured that Stevens, Krauss and Benjamin
would all be in the ride-off, as no one received "Double Blues" at
The ride-off was held before the start of advanced
walk-trot-canter, with each of the three riders asked to walk,
trot and canter in each direction by judge Mike Hansen. When
everyone was lined up it turned out to be Benjamin winning the
ride-off with Stevens reserve. In her first IHSA ride-off ever
the freshman rider from Farmington Hills, Michigan won riding
"Felix" to beat out both an intermediate and an open rider. It
seemed as if GVSU could do little wrong up to this point.
The Wolverines heated up in the advanced walk-trot-canter, as
junior Claudia Cieslak won the first section while junior Mary
Herrmann won the third. In both cases Grand Valley State riders
finished second, with Beth Lubeck a placing behind Cieslak and
Katie Ferraro trailing only Herrmann. In between Albion won
another class as sophomore Amanda Stoyanovitch took the blue.
|In only their fourth IHSA show ever, Adrian College finished
ninth out of thirteen schools entered. Head Coach Elizabeth "Libby" Miller (on
right) poses with sophomore Brittanie Terrel after the latter placed third in
walk-trot. Adrian now has 59 points over four shows,
essentially averaging 15 points per contest in their inaugural season.
There were two sections of beginner walk-trot-canter.
Oakland picked up their final points of the day in the
first section, as junior and Grizzlies Team Treasurer Lisa
Hibbard took the blue. Though Oakland had a great day, the
drop score had been determined before the show even started,
as the Grizzlies were without a walk-trot entry. Western
Michigan picked up their second and final blue ribbon a short
time later, as senior Sara Long won the other section.
There were six walk-trot riders in each of the two sections
which concluded the proceedings. Grand Valley State
sophomore Kelly Koenigsknecht pointed out of the division with
a first in section A while the final rider to win a class at
today's show was University of Michigan sophomore Caroline
Wolcott, who boosted the Wolverines' total to 38.
When the final team points were written in the High Point
team award went to Grand Valley State. This marked the second
consecutive show in which GVSU was high point and went over
the 40-point barrier. Grand Valley State scored 44, the most
of any Region 4 team so far this season. The high point total
allowed them to overtake Western Michigan for third and tie
Albion for second overall in the Region 4 team standings with
197. What is not clear is if this is the Grand Valley school
record for points. It appears that prior to the 2006-07
season GVSU did not earn more than 40 points at any Region 3
show. Unless they scored 44 or higher last season (Campus
Equestrian does not have the Region 3 hunter seat team points
broken down by show for the 2006-07 season), Grand Valley has
not only the Region 4 record for hunter seat points at one
show but also their own program record on this day.
Oakland earned reserve high point team honors for the
second time this season, and they too may have set a school
record by reaching 40 for the first time (and with no
walk-trot rider today). The University of Michigan did not
win the battle but all signs point to a surrender of the
region title to the Wolverines on March 1st, as both Albion
and Grand Valley State trail by 26 headed into the final
show that day. If Michigan can score 24 points - eleven
fewer than their low score through six shows - the region
title will still be theirs no matter what else happens.
|Seen here with Head Coach Jennifer Blades, the University of
Michigans' Kevin Stevens moved (back) into first place in the Region 4 hunter
seat open rider standings. The junior from Grand Rapids won his open flat
while placing second in open fences and now leads teammate Jenna Watson (not
pictured) by a narrow 55-53 margin with one show to go.
The University of Michigan also has the upper hand in getting
one of their riders to IHSA Nationals before anyone else. Stevens,
who at one point led the Region 4 hunter seat open rider standings
before falling behind Albions' Christine Grahl, returned to the top
spot. While Stevens has 55 combined flat and fences points,
teammate Jenna Watson was second in both of her open classes and
finished the day with 53. Foth earned ten points to finish with 50
while Grahl sits in fourth with 48. Payne basically needs a
miracle to take the lead as she has 43. The open rider with the
most combined flat and fences points after the March 1st Albion show
will automatically advance to IHSA Nationals to compete for the
Cacchione Cup May 8th through 11th in Burbank, California.
Host Michigan State won four red ribbons to go with Foth's blue
and finished with 33 points while Albion scored 31 and Western
Don't forget about us: Six schools in attendance did not
earn any blue ribbons but competed nevertheless. Central Michigan
University was led by sophomore Marissa Whitbey, who was second in
intermediate fences, and freshman Ashley Abbruzzi, who was second in
open flat. CMU scored 17 while Adrian College, in their
first season of IHSA competition, earned 11. Besides
Turner-Schimmel sophomore Brittanie Terrel was also a yellow
ribbon-winner, having placed third in walk-trot. Saginaw Valley
State is back in the IHSA after a few years without a team, and at
today's show freshmen Courtney Trares was second in beginner
walk-trot-canter to lead SVSU toward six points. Also with six was
Calvin College. Calvin was led by freshman Lindsay Blair, who was
second in novice flat. Though Hillsdale College (made up today of
only senior advanced walk-trot-canter rider Jennette Engle) and
College for Creative Studies (made up of only senior novice flat
rider Aileen Snyder) were unable to score, both schools will
hopefully have better luck at Albion. The March 1st competition
will likely be the final undergraduate IHSA competition for both
riders who showed today. Though Region 4 does not currently have
alumni, it cannot be ruled out that the division may one day
surface in the Great Lakes State.
More IHSA history to be made: Anyone traveling to Findlay,
Ohio on March 15th will see two shows for the price of one (these
shows are free by the way). Though Region 4 is very happy to be
made up purely of Michigan schools, hunter seat riders who qualify
for Regionals will compete at Findlay in the first-ever overlapping
Double-Regional show. Using one judge and the same horses, riders
in Region 3 will compete in one section of open fences followed by
riders from Region 4 doing likewise. Then the same process will be
repeated for intermediate fences, novice fences and so on. Though
there are regions which are geographically closer in other parts of
the country there is no indication that this has ever been
attempted before. It would appear to be a great idea if the number
of qualifiers is not too great. To have the same horses and judge
is likely also a money-saver. Who knows? If the concept works you
might see overlapping Zone shows or even - time permitting - a
regular season show where two regions compete at the same facility
on the same day. For the time being, the March 15th show looks
like good value for your money.
Show Incidentals: Cloudy skies, with temperatures in the mid 30's.
Entire show held indoors in a heated facility. Start time: 10:29AM.
Finish: 5:34PM - includes 83 minute lunch break/Coaches & Captains
meeting and additional schooling breaks. Point cards posted in this
region? No, however a scoreboard with division-by-division points was
posted and updated after each division was completed. Alumni Classes
held in this region? No. Judge: Mike Hansen. Stewards:
Miller/Adrian College, Zetting/Albion College and Tompkins/Grand
Valley State University.
Team Totals: Grand Valley State University (High Point Team) 44;
Oakland University (Reserve) 40; University of Michigan 38; Michigan
State University 33; Albion College 31; Western Michigan
University 24; Central Michigan University 17; Adrian College 11;
Ferris State University 8; Calvin College 6; Saginaw Valley State
University 6; Hillsdale College 0 and College for Creative Studies 0.
High Point Rider - Libby Benjamin, Grand Valley State University
Reserve High Point Rider - Kevin Stevens, University of Michigan