HARRISBURG, Pa. – The West Texas A&M equestrian team finished fifth in the country on Sunday at the 2014 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Championship. In the process, senior Julia Roberts capped off an excellent career by winning the AQHA Cup as the High Point Western Rider and adding two National Championship titles to her belt. Senior Kayla Wells also earned an individual title while sophomore Rachel Foster was named Reserve Champion.
“I am so proud of WT equestrian,” said head coach Amanda Love. “They rode fantastic and to walk away from the weekend with three National Champions and one Reserve National champion is phenomenal. What a legacy they have upheld!”
The Lady Buffs competed in the event beginning Thursday and ending today at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa. They sent 12 total athletes to ride in the competition, 11 between individual and team Western events, and one in Hunt Seat. In all, the Lady Buffs had three National Champions (Roberts x2, Wells) and one Reserve National Champion (Foster).
Looking to defend its Western National Championship title from last season, its second overall, was the Lady Buffs’ team consisting of six riders in the Western discipline. Athletes competing in the team events included Cana Fitzgerald, Kimberly Newkirk, Megan Pirtle, Kinzee Shull, Roberts and Marilyn Brandt.
WT finished fifth as a team with nine total points. Ohio State won the event with an overall score of 29 points, followed by Findlay (second, 25 pts.), St. Andrews (third, 24 pts.) and Berry College and Nebraska-Lincoln (T-fourth, 18 pts.).
Roberts highlighted the team events with her National Championship in Team Open Horsemanship while Fitzgerald then added a fifth place finish in Team Beginner Horsemanship. Three Lady Buffs contributed seventh place finishes for the team: Newkirik (Intermediate Horsemanship), Pirtle (Novice Horsemanship) and Shull (Advanced Horsemanship). For the final event, Brandt was named Honorable Mention in Team Reining.
After receiving her second National Championship title of the weekend, this time in Individual Reining, Roberts was awarded the AQHA Cup, an accolade given to the event’s High Point Western Rider. The senior captain did not stop there though. During the event, Roberts was also given the Equestrian Coach Achievement of Excellence Award. With the award, she will receive a $1,000 stipend towards a six-day apprenticeship at McQuay Stables along with a lifetime membership to EquestrianCoach.com.
“What a way to finish out my senior year,” exclaimed Roberts. “To accomplish every single goal I’ve ever worked for is such an unbelievable feeling. Hard work and dedication truly pays off. I wouldn’t’ be here if it wasn’t for my coach Amanda Love and founder of IHSA, Bob Cacchione. God has blessed me beyond belief!”
Wells earned her National Championship in individual events as well as she took first place in Advanced Horsemanship. Foster grabbed her Reserve National Championship title with her second place performance Individual Beginning Horsemanship.
Also in individual events were sophomore Tessa Lopez (Advanced Horsemanship) and junior Angela Bradley (Novice Horsemanship) who received eighth place finishes while senior Kayla Bridgman (Novice Horsemanship) was named Honorable Mention.
Junior Reilly Millbauer was the lone competitor for the Lady Buffs in Hunt Seat competition. She also received Honorable Mention in her event, Individual Open Flat.