NCEA Wraps Up Regular Season Before Championships Begin

The SUNY New Paltz equestrian team headed to Sweet Briar College where both National Collegiate Equestrain Association (NCEA) teams went head to head at the Harriet Rogers Equestrian Center on Friday. The two teams have faced each other twice in the past, where the Vixens have come out on top both times.

After a brief warm-up and schooling, the day got rolling with the fences division. The Vixens were quick to get points on the board with solid scores, and took the lead, 4-1. Hawks fourth-year transfer Madeline Berg secured the sole fences point, beating her opponent first-year Kacie Freeburg 86-73 on their draw, Buddy, which earned Berg the title of most outstanding player (MOP) for fences Friday, chalking up to her third MOP award this year.

“My four minutes to warm up Buddy went less than according to plan,” Berg said. “When I went in for my round my only focus was to ride him up off of my leg and keep the pace. We ended up laying down a really nice trip and I was ultimately thankful that my schooling did not go so well because it told me a lot about what I needed to do to have a successful round. This MOP is my third of the season, and I was ecstatic to receive it. It’s nice when the early mornings and hard work the team puts in at home pay off in the show ring.”

The show got moving again after a quick flat schooling, and there was a big change in momentum for SUNY New Paltz. The Hawks defeated the Vixens on the flat 4-1, tying the match up 5-5. Berg won her flat point aboard Emmett 73-6. Third-year Katie Brantmeyer also won her point on Luciano 72-69, first-year Brynly Smith stole her point on Cardino 70-69, and third-year Elizabeth Jacoby won hers as well on Dance, 66-64.

“As far as my ride on Dance, he was such a cool horse that really gave me everything I asked for,” Jacoby said. “I got a little too close to the rail for my shoulder in which killed my score, but it felt like a pretty accurate ride and I couldn’t have asked for much else. Overall I was happy with my ride and was thrilled to get another point for the team today.”

To break the tie, the team’s raw scores of points are considered and the team with the highest number wins, so the Vixens squeaked out on top, 727-614.  

“I think as a whole I am extremely happy with the team’s performance today. Having come back to Sweet Briar after competing here in the fall we were really able to see the improvements we made in the places we struggled last time and many of our riders accomplished some of their personal goals,” said SUNY New Paltz coach Brooke Nestor. 

“I think over fences we need to work a little more on some exercises with an open stride. Going from up north to some of these southern competitions where their rings are much bigger we need to practice some more complex jumping exercises at home on a forward flowing stride.”

The Hawks equestrian team now has a good amount of time before their next competitions, where IHSA enters the post-season and competes at Regionals on Friday, March 27, and NCEA will head to the NCEA Championships April 15-18.