Photos by Giana Terranova Photography
The eyes of the college equestrian world turned to the IHSA Nationals Competition last week at the Alltech Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Sixteen schools from across the country came to compete for the title of National Champion. Of course, only one team comes out on top and thanks to consistent training and hard work, the SCAD Equestrian Team won their second consecutive National Championship. SCAD Equestrian won the show with a total of 36 points, leading the second place team, Mount Holyoke, by 16 points.
Both Meredith Denny and Quinn Lowsky won their intermediate individual classes. Senior Captain Ryan Genn came in first in his open flat class and fourth in over fences. Mikayla Colson, showing at Nationals for the first time, won her class aboard SCAD’s very own Gunter.
When asked about achieving the top placing in her class, Mikayla Colson said, “It was really exciting. It was strange to think that I was competing with such an amazing team at Nationals, of all things. It felt really great and terrifying to be trusted with the responsibility of doing my absolute best; especially because you only get a few minutes in front of the judge, so you have to be on top of your game.”
“The entire week was one that I’ll never forget,” Colson continued. “It really gave me an opportunity to spend time with some of my teammates that I hadn’t really gotten a chance to know yet, especially the seniors. Everybody was so supportive of each other and it felt like I was part of something that you don’t find very often — a real TEAM.”
“As far as my time in the ring goes, I was so nervous but it felt like I really belonged there and that I could truly prove myself,” Colson said. “It was probably one of the most terrifying experiences, but in the best way possible. My heart was racing, my blood was pumping and I knew that if I just dug up every bit of focus and concentration that I had, I could do it. Of course the horse that I drew, Gunter, was a perfect gentleman and made it that much easier for me to have the confidence necessary to stay calm and relaxed. It really helped that my mom was there to support me through the nerve-racking time as well. It was really special. The entire experience was one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Most SCAD riders placed in the top ten, even if they didn’t win their classes. In the team intermediate class Denny scored the highest score over fences and came in second after the work off.
It was also Madison Albano’s first time at Nationals and she placed fourth. She said, “It was truly an amazing experience! My goal since freshman year was to represent SCAD Equestrian at IHSA Nationals, so it was a great feeling to achieve that goal this year. I was extremely nervous to compete at Nationals because I didn’t want to let the team or myself down. It was incredible to take a moment before I entered the ring to look back on all of the work that I put into my riding this year and how far I’ve come thanks to Ashley. She really pushed me with my riding this year and I’m extremely happy with the results.”
Tess Mroczka achieved ninth place and Genn came in fourth in his over fences class. Genn also came in third in the prestigious Cacchione Cup, a class where only the top riders from every zone in the country have a chance to compete. Jessica Amsberry (you can read about her experience at the 2015 Nationals here) placed third in her class. Captain Devon Walther, while not placing in her class, was still able to make it to the Individual National Level. This feat was not unexpected, as she has consistently done well throughout her entire IHSA career.
Every rider trained hard under the guidance of Coach Ashley Henry to prove that the SCAD team could win once more and, of course, every other team member was there to support and cheer them on. It took the effort of the entire team to make it to the top.
For more highlights from Nationals, check out the video here!