Equestrian team brings home program’s first national title
OSU was the only team that placed a rider in the top 10 in every team class
Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 20:07
As of May 6, the Oregon State University division of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association is officially a National Championship squad for the first time in the organization’s history.
The team traveled to Raleigh, N.C., last weekend to compete in the annual IHSA National Championship series. Prior to the much-deserved victory over the weekend, OSU’s equestrian team had been consistently ranked in the top 10 among competing universities (over 200 universities nationwide) for the last seven years running.
OSU’s equestrian team was the only team that managed to have riders place within the top 10 in every team class.
“We were the only team that was consistent,” said Elizabeth Whitman, the team’s Hi-Point rider and assistant coach. “And I think that’s what won it for us.”
Whitman and two-year veteran Kathryn Sergeant were competing during their last year of eligibility as members of IHSA. Both hope the teams’ success will bring more notoriety to an equestrian group that is feared nationally, despite facing relative obscurity at home.
“To end it on this note is the most amazing thing to be a part of,” Sergeant said. “It was my last year and I wanted to give it my all.”
It has been an especially long journey to this point for Whitman, who has been a member of IHSA since her freshman year at OSU. For the last four years, she has traveled to nationals with the team; each year, Whitman and her teammates had dealt with the cliché “close but no cigar” scenario. But not anymore.
“When I realized that I was in the arena, and there was only one team that could catch us and their rider placed under me, I thought I was going to cry, or puke. It was honestly very surreal.” Whitman said.
Dawn Ross has been the team’s instructor, coach and friend for years. While Ross acknowledges this is in fact a victory for an OSU sports team, she understands the personal success her riders have garnered from claiming the title of champions is far superior to that of winning under the banner of Oregon State.
“They have worked very hard for this. It was a whole team effort,” Ross said. “It’s not just about those who go on the road. It takes the whole team to get us where we are at right now, and it is quite exciting to achieve that.”
Drew Wilson-McGrath, sports writer
On Twitter: @DrewWilsonMcGra