Columbus, OH — Sixteen top collegiate equestrian teams gathered in Columbus, Ohio for the 27th Holiday Tournament of Champions, December 1 at Otterbein University. All but one of the teams had finished the fall semester in 1st Place in their regions, bolstering the “Winter Nationals” nickname it earned nearly three decades ago. Three local rivals kicked off the party, winning the first three classes. Otterbein’s Danielle Duryea set the tone for the hosts with the blue ribbon in the first class, Open Fences Section A. Ohio University’s Madeline Davis won Open Section B. The two are rivals for Cacchione Cup Champion in the local region, and their teams finished the fall semester in a dead tie for the team lead in the southern Ohio region. Miami’s Tess Von Hemel won the Intermediate A to make it three straight Ohio wins. Miami of Ohio had been the third rival in this competitive region before IHSA shifted the regional boundary this year, and Miami goes to Christmas Break with a solid lead over Kentucky in their new region.
It was Class 8 before SCAD had a blue ribbon, giving everyone else early hope, but the Bees bounced back to a normal SCAD day with 44 points paced by 4 blue ribbons, and the easy win. Brady Martino won the Novice Fences to jolt them back to normal, the start of a perfect day for Martino. He later won the Novice Flat class, and both phases of the Tournament Low Medal. It was Brady’s third Tournament Medal Championship, tying his former SCAD teammate, Tess Mroczka as the only riders to have won 3 Low Medals. Del Val’s Ciara Menkens and Tufts’ Chase Boggio remain the leaders in the High Medal with 3 wins apiece.
At the end of three divisions – all the team fences – SCAD had taken a lead they would hold and extend the rest of the day. Their 16 points led over Del Val’s 14, followed by Holyoke and Otterbein both with 13, and Ohio with 12. Mount Holyoke and Goucher were the only other teams with more than one blue ribbon for the day—they finished with two apiece. Del Val’s and Ohio’s 3 red ribbons led all teams in reds and propped up their scores.
In an unusual format for Tournament, the High and Low Medal classes were held and completed in their entirety in the middle of the day. It was a banner day for Tournament Medal, with no fewer than nine competing riders having finished as Champion or Reserve Champion in prior Tournament Medals. The judge watched both sections of High Medal Flat before calling back ten riders to jump. Flat and Fences scores were combined to call back four riders for additional testing. In reverse order, testers were Adam Edgar, SCAD; Aexandra Worthington, Vanderbilt; Madeline Davis, Ohio; and Elizabeth Traband, Penn State testing in the lead. They rode a very short canter from the gate to jumps 2, 3, and 4, halt, drop stirrups and trot back to the gate. All had good jumps, but Davis hung a back lead on the rollback, and Traband was weak to the first jump after opting for a longer approach. In the end, good friends Alexandra Worthington and Adam Edgar ended up in the top ribbons for High Medal. It was Adam’s second Reserve finish, to go with a Championship in his year-and-half of Tournaments. For Alexandra, it was her first trip to Tournament. Maddie Davis had been Reserve Champion in the September Tournament High Medal.
HIGH MEDAL RESULTS
Champion: Alexandra Worthington, Vanderbilt University
Reserve Champion: Adam Edgar, Savannah College of Art & Design
3rd: Madeline Davis, Ohio University
4th: Lizzie Traband, Penn State
5th: Emily Kowitt, Otterbein University
6th: Lissy Naber, Lake Erie College
7th: Kirby Tidmore, Randolph College
8th: Courtney Sloan, Goucher College
9th: Shannon Allen, Miami of Ohio
10th: Payton McClintack, University of Findlay
Low Medal was a slam dunk for Brady Martino, with the high score in both the flat phase and fences phase to win his third Tournament Low Medal in three semesters. Findlay’s Jessie Hood and Randolph’s Michelle Smith were the next-best flat scores, but Michelle won the battle over jumps to edge out Hood for the Reserve Championship. Michelle had won the previous Tournament Low Medal in September.
LOW MEDAL RESULTS
Champion: Brady Martino, Savannah College of Art & Design
Reserve Champion: Michelle Smith, Randolph College
3rd: Jessie Hood, University of Findlay
4th: Meghan Moran, University of Findlay
5th: Emly Axel, Goucher College
6th: Sophie Priller, Otterbein University
7th: Olivia Durkin, Penn State
8th: Daniella Ben-Eliezer, University of Delaware
9th: Katie Kemp, Ohio University
10th: Meghan McSpiritt, Rutgers University
As the flat phase began, teams didn’t know it yet but all were fighting for a distant second place behind SCAD. Scores were close all day and in the end the difference between second place and eighth place was 5 points!
Ohio University jumped up to second place about two-thirds thru the day, ahead of Del Val, Mount Holyoke and Miami but two late zeroes cost Ohio, and by the three-quarter mark they had been passed up by all three of those teams. Goucher got two late blues from Adeline Callihan and Nadia Langer to leap-frog over several teams in the late standings, but it was Miami’s and Otterbein’s consistent points on the board that kept adding up to the top spots. SCAD, Miami, and Otterbein were the only three teams put scores on the board in all classes, and those were the top three teams in the winner’s circle at the end of the day. Coincidence? Coaches know you can’t take zeroes.
Columbus, Ohio is the perfect place for a national level horse show, and Westerville is one of the jewels of Columbus. With a major airport minutes from Otterbein’s state-of-the-art equestrian facility, great hotels and restaurants, and one of the biggest shopping areas in the Midwest right in the neighborhood, Westerville made it a memorable trip for teams from all up and down the east coast.
Weather was not ideal, but 100% chance of all day rain didn’t affect the show once riders got inside the Otterbein Equine Center. Temps were in the 50’s and riders were happy they didn’t have to contend with the snow that typically accompanies Holiday Tournament weekend.
Katie Schaaf got the chance to judge her first Tournament of Champions, continuing 22 years of involvement with the Tournament that started as a rider for Tufts University. She later coached Tufts for several years and was always a strong contender at more than a dozen Tournaments. She later coached the IEA team for Northgate Farm in the Boston area, and became the only coach to win National Champion High School Team and National Champion Middle School Team in the same season. She is now a USEF trainer and judge in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Tournament of Champions will continue with Winter Classic 1, January 12 at Bridgewater College in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Winter Classic 2 will finish the season, January 26 at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. There will also be a Prep Tournament for high school aged riders, February 3 at Mount Holyoke College in central Massachusetts.
Tournament of Champions will award the Series Champion Team trophy at the final show in Fredericksburg, to the team with the highest two-show average score. Savannah College of Art & Design is the defending Series Champion. Current standings are as follows:
TOP TEN TOURNAMENT SERIES STANDINGS:
Preseason Holiday Total Average
SCAD 36 44 80 40
South Carolina 33 33 33
Otterbein 30 30 30
Bridgewater 29 29 29
Virginia Tech 28 28 28
Goucher 28 27 45 27.5
Del Val 27 27 27
Ohio 25 26 51 25.5
Miami 21 30 51 25.5
Penn State 25 25 25
Questions about Tournament of Champions should be directed to the Tournament Director, Jim Arrigon at [email protected]