Equestrian rides past Vermont to regional victory
Dartmouth equestrian held out its narrow lead in overall points during the last three shows of the season, winning the region for the first time under coach Sally Batton. As a result, the Big Green has earned a trip to Zone Championships on April 9 for a team spot at Nationals.
"It is incredible that our team has made it this far," said team captain Abby Donahue '06. "To win our region for the first time is really quite an accomplishment."
In a seven-day period, equestrian took second in three different shows thanks to a slew of blue ribbon performances.
At Mount Ida's March 6 show, first place finishers included Daisy Freund '08 in open fences, Tami Martin '08 in novice fences, Donahue in intermediate flat, Kate Wooler '08 in intermediate flat and Tina Gutierrez '05 in walk/trot/canter.
At the University of Vermont on March 12, only Donahue won her intermediate flat class, but Dartmouth still managed to shake up the field with 10 second place finishers.
A day later at the Middlebury show, Martin in novice fences and John Olsen '05 in novice flat pulled out two key victories, with Martin earning valuable points for the team and Olsen qualifying for Regionals.
Despite the run of runner-up finishes, the Big Green could do little to silence a hard-charging Vermont squad. Down by 23 going into the Mount Ida show, the Catamounts clawed their way into the race for Regional champion.
The final show at Middlebury was filled with much tension as the final points tallies were added up to determine the winner of the show. In the end, Dartmouth took the title with 317 points to UVM's 314.
"The team went to the official point cards and realized we had won by three points for the year over UVM," Batton said. "We were jumping up and down and hugging and crying -- well, at least I was -- and so thrilled with our win!"
Not only did the team excel throughout the season, but nine individuals had strong personal performances and earned enough points to qualify for the Regional competition this Saturday at Colby-Sawyer. By placing first or second at Regionals, the individual will earn a place at Zones to compete for a Nationals spot.
Freund also achieved one of the highest honors for an intercollegiate rider in her rookie year by becoming the Cacchione Cup rider for the region. Freund garnered the most total points in her open fences and flat classes throughout the season, earning a place in the Cacchione Cup class that will be held at Nationals in May.
"Although the Cacchione Cup is exciting as an opportunity to go to Nationals," said Freund, "I would consider it an even bigger victory if I or anyone on our team could progress on the individual level to Zones and then even to Nationals. That would be a real accomplishment, and that is what we'll be trying to do."
Freund has made a large impact on the team as a freshman and, in combination with Tim Malone '07, has pushed Dartmouth to the top of its region.
"Daisy [Freund] has been an amazing addition to our team this year," said Batton, "and the one-two punch of open point riders Tim Malone in open fences and Daisy in open flat really contributed to our Regional championship this year."
Dartmouth equestrian is now looking forward to Regionals this Saturday at Colby-Sawyer, during which the nine qualified riders will compete for a spot at Zones.
"Due to the D-plan, our team is somewhat disadvantaged by the timing of these shows," said Donahue. "However, we have been riding hard all year, and I'm sure it will show at these upcoming events."