Zone 8 Shined in Gold and Zone 7 Earns Medals of Every Kind at the 2015 USHJA Children’s and Adult Amateur Jumper Central Regional Championships

By Louise Bowden for USHJA

Lexington, KY—-Shining bright with the most clear rounds, Zone 8 riders claimed the Children’s and Adult Amateur team golds and the Adult Amateur individual gold medal, while Zone 7 earned individual gold and team silver and bronze at the 2015 USHJA Children’s and Adult Amateur Jumper Central Regional Championship, July 15-19, 2015, at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, CO.

Led by chef d’equipe JJ Atkinson, the Zone 8 Children’s team of Stephany McConnell, Dani Michelson, Maddee Morley and Lusa Olle earned the gold medal handily with a perfect team score of zero faults. The battle for silver ensued when Zone 7 Team 1 (Talia Bailey, Isabella Baxter, Margherita Contestabili and Megan Kerpsack) and Zone 7 Team 2 (Michael Binder, Elizabeth Vore, Sara Duke and Gaby Walley) went head-to-head in a jump-off after both teams ended on the same score of eight faults.

Zone 7 riders Michael Binder and Talia Bailey, selected by Zone 7 chef d’equipe Matt Cyphert, faced-off in a jump-off to determine silver and bronze. Narrowly beating Binder in the jump-off, Bailey claimed the silver for Zone 7 Team 1, and Zone 7 Team 2 took bronze.

“I think for any rider just putting yourself in that kind of pressure situation makes you a better rider,” said Cyphert. “I say all the time, ‘you can’t rush experience, you just have to take it as you get it,’ and to give them an opportunity, or even several opportunities that week, to be a little nervous walking into the ring or having other [teammates] count on you, I think it was good for them.”

The Children’s individual competition also saw great riding and seven clear rounds. Leading the Children’s individual final was Isabella Baxter of Wright City, MO, (Zone 7) who ended on her first round score of one fault and claiming the gold medal. Close behind was Lusa Olle of Edwards, CO, (Zone 8) who ended on her first round score of two faults for the silver, and coming from behind was Stephany McConnell of Littleton, CO, (Zone 8) who was fifth entering the final day of competition and rode away with the Children’s individual bronze and a total of just three faults.

Children’s Individual Gold Medalist Isabella Baxter aboard Keystone. Photo Credit: Flying Horse LTD.

The courses, designed by Brazilian Anderson Lima, proved to be challenging but appropriate for the riders, receiving praise from riders and chefs alike. Riders and chefs also had high praise for the horse show and the $25,000 in prize money it provided for the Championships. The total Championship prize money is decided by each host location.

The Adult Amateur competition was tough with numerous riders posting clear rounds in team and individual competition. Team Zone 8 (Kate Jenks, Betsy Baker, Kristina Matthews and Amy Gallagher) ended on a final score of zero faults to take the gold with Adult Amateur Team Zone 6/7 (Kelly Cormaci, Emily Allen and Tami Sopinski) hot on their heels with just four faults earning the silver medal. A few unlucky rails for Team Zone 7/8 (Claire Hyde, Nikki Hoskinson and Nicole Lyvere) meant they would hold on to the bronze.

Leading the Adult Amateur competition throughout the three days of competition was 20-year-old Kate Jenks of Colorado Springs, CO, (Zone 8) aboard her own mare, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Posting clear rounds each day, Jenks handily won the Adult Amateur Individual gold medal.

Riding into the final day of individual competition three and a half faults behind the leader, was Emily Allen of Dallas, TX, (Zone 7) aboard her own I-Mai Tai OHF, claiming silver. Bronze medalist Nicole Lyvere of Lakewood, CO, (Zone 8) also rode from behind on her own Tiggerr to earn the last medal up for grabs on just four and a half faults.

In addition to their medals, the winning teams and individuals in both the Adult Amateur and Children’s will receive Pro Performance open-front boots provided USHJA Contributing Sponsor Professional’s Choice. Also, the individual Children’s gold medalist receives a coveted spot in a 2016 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program Regional Training Session of their choice.

“Really I think it was a great experience,” said Cyphert. “I’ve been involved with Prix des States and Young Riders for a lot of years now, so it’s really nice to see that program extended to the [Child/Adult Amateur] division, and I thought it was a great experience for all the kids and the adults.” Cyphert continued, “It was just the right amount of serious but still a really good time for everybody. The horse show [Colorado Equestrian Partners] did a really good job with it.”

USHJA congratulates all of the riders who participated in the 2015 Children’s and Adult Amateur Jumper Central Regional Championships:

Zone 6: Kelli Cormaci and Tami Sopinski

Zone 7: Emily Allen, Talia Bailey, Isabella Baxter, Michael Binder, Margherita Contestabili, Sara Duke, Claire Hyde, Megan Kerpsack, Elizabeth Vore and Gabby Walley

Zone 8: Betsy Baker, Amy Gallagher, Nikki Hoskinson, Kate Jenks, Abigail Grace Kelley, Nicole Lyvere, Kristina Matthews, Stephany McConnell , Dani Michelson, Maddee Morley and Lusa Olle

The USHJA Children’s & Adult Amateur Jumper Regional Championships are divided into four regions: North Region (Zones 1, 2 and 5), South Region (Zones 3 and 4), Central Region (Zones 6, 7 and 8) and West Region (Zones 9, 10, 11 and 12). Held in Nation’s Cup-style format, the Championships are held for teams and individual riders. The next Children’s and Adult Amateur Jumper Regional Championships are for the North Region, September 2-6, 2015, at the Showplace Fall Championships in Wayne, IL. Click here for complete coverage on the South Regional Championships, which took place earlier this month at the Tryon International Equestrian Center. For more information on the Championships, including specifications, qualifying, dates and locations visit,

Children’s Team Championship
GOLD: Zone 8 (Stephany McConnell, Littleton, CO; Dani Michelson, Niwot, CO; Maddee Morley, Colorado Springs, CO; Lusa Olle, Edwards, CO)
SILVER: Zone 7 Team 1 (Talia Bailey, Ft. Worth, TX; Isabella Baxter, Wright City, MO; Margherita Contestabili, Houston, TX; Megan Kerpsack, Austin, TX)
BRONZE: Zone 7 Team 2 (Michael Binder, Southlake, TX; Sara Duke, Farmers Branch, TX; Elizabeth Vore, Leawood, KS; Gabby Walley, Dallas, TX)
Children’s Individual Championship
GOLD: Isabella Baxter, Wright City, MO
SILVER: Lusa Olle, Edwards, CO
BRONZE: Stephany McConnell, Littleton, CO
Adult Amateur Team Competition
GOLD: Zone 8 (Betsy Baker, Tempe, AZ; Kate Jenks, Colorado Springs, CO; Kristina Matthews, Denver, CO; Amy Gallagher, Scottsdale, AZ)
SILVER: Zone 6/7 (Kelly Cormaci, Omaha, NE; Tami Sopinski, Sioux Falls, SD; Emily Allen, Dallas, TX)
BRONZE: Zone 7/8 (Claire Hyde, Dallas, TX; Nikki Hoskinson, Erie, CO; Nicole Lyvere, Lakewood, CO)
Adult Amateur Individual Competition
GOLD: Kate Jenks, Colorado Springs, CO
SILVER: Emily Allen, Dallas, TX
BRONZE: Nicole Lyvere, Lakewood, CO