Defending National Champs Pick Up Where They Left Off
By Emma Childs
The Western riders of the Berry equestrian team set the bar high for the 2011-2012 season following their IHSA national title in May, the first ever in school history.
However, the Lady Vikings rose to the challenge in Dahlonega, Ga., Saturday winning both of their opening shows at North Georgia College and State University in a decisive fashion.
In the first show of the day, sophomore Andrea Smith clinched both the Open Reining class and the Open Western Horsemanship class to garner the high point title. Smith is the defending national champion for team novice Western. She won the division on May 6 in Lexington, Ky., to pull the Vikings into a tie for first with the University of Findlay in their pursuit for the national title.
Freshman rider Amanda Bellamy finished her maiden show for Berry with a splash, finishing third in Open Reining and fourth in Open Western Horsemanship to earn the reserve high point rider honors.
In Advanced Western Horsemanship, Antonia Van Os snagged the first place blue ribbon in her first show as a Western rider. Van Os earned valuable points for the hunt seat team as a freshman last season, winning her novice equitation class in the Berry Show in February. Fellow sophomore Kristen Brennan finished third in the same class in Dalonega.
In the first section of the Novice Western Horsemanship division, Becca Cochran finished third while Tania Van der Westhuizen earned a fifth place ribbon as teammate Cecilia Shields-Auble rode to a second place standing in the following class section.
Lynn Cherry closed Berry's first round of competition with her reserve title in Beginner Western Horsemanship.
The Lady Vikes dominated the first show with a total of 30 points, finishing 11 points ahead of second place Clemson University.
Not content to win just one show, the Western riders continued to step up their game, also claiming a dominant victory in the afternoon competition.
Smith once again went one-one in her Reining and Open Horsemanship classes to once again be named high point rider. Bellamy finished close behind with third and fifth place finishes, respectively.
Van Os and Brennan continued their one-three punch in the Advanced Western Horsemanship class to add to Berry's growing point total.
Freshman Morgan Truett won the first section of the Novice Western Horsemanship class as Becca Cochran followed in second. In Section B, Shields-Auble jumped to first place and Van der Westhuizen finished second to give the Vikings a double dose of the one-two finish.
Katie Breen left the ring victorious after her first place in the Section A division of Intermediate II Western Horsemanship class as Ali Wheless finished fifth. Ariel Robelen rode to a fourth place white ribbon in the B section of the same class.
Immediately following in the Intermediate I Western Horsemanship grouping was freshman Olivia Trice, who also left her first ever show as a Berry Viking with a first place ribbon.
The day concluded with freshman Sam Brown's win in the Beginner Western Horsemanship and Lynn Cherry's fifth.
Berry won for a second time with 37 points, head of second place host North Georgia College and State University, who finished with 18.
- BerryVikings.com -