By Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department
Hesperus, Colo. – The 2021 USEF/AVA Vaulting National Championships had an exciting weekend of the country’s top vaulting athletes competing September 18-19 in Hesperus, Colo. After a year’s hiatus due to qualifying disruptions caused by COVID-19, the vaulting community was ready to prove their mettle. In the 3* divisions, Tessa Divita won the USEF/AVA 3* Individual Female Vaulting National Championship while Geoffrey Woolson took top honors in the USEF/AVA 3* Individual Male Vaulting National Championship.
USEF/AVA 3* Individual Female Vaulting National Championship.
Tessa Divita (Portola Valley, Calif.) of Portola Valley Vaulters earned the USEF/AVA 3* Individual Female Vaulting National Championship with Pino Del Rio, Julie and Edward Divita’s 2004 Westphalian gelding, and longuer Julie Divita. Tessa scored an impressive 8.290 for her overall score to clinch the national title.
“This nationals was especially exciting for me for two reasons,” explained Tessa. “I injured myself earlier in the year, and this competition was one of the first ones that felt like I was back to myself. The bigger reason is that this is the last national championship that I had yet to win for vaulting. I had won all of the other divisions, so this was the crowning achievement for me. I had won Cooper, Bronze, Silver, C Team, B Team, and A Team before, but not this one.”
In addition to her meaningful win, Tessa earned her highest-ever compulsory, technical, and freestyle test scores at the national championship. She was thankful to have a successful weekend with her mom and longeur Julie Divita and Pino del Rio.
“I love [Pino del Rio]. He is so wonderful. He is so trustworthy and I know that when I go into the competition arena with him he is always going to be a good teammate and he cares about performing as much as I do,” said Tessa of her longtime vaulting partner. “He knows that when we go into the competition arena it is time to do our best and try our hardest. It always feels nice to know that I have a teammate with me.”
Tessa is looking forward to her next vaulting goals. She was the reserve U.S. individual female athlete at the FEI Vaulting World Championships for Seniors in Budapest, Hungary. “I was able to attend those and watch, which was very inspiring watching all of the high-level athletes perform there,” said Tessa. The experience has her hoping to qualify for the 2022 ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning, Denmark.
Emily Rose (Santa Cruz, Calif.) of Pacific Coast Vaulters with El Doctro, the 2010 KWPN gelding she co-owns with longeur Carolyn Bland, were the reserve champions in the USEF/AVA 3* Individual Female Vaulting National Championship. Third place went to Siddartha Kreaden (Sunnyvale, Calif.) of Pacific Coast Vaulters with Checara, the 2007 KWPN mare she co-owns with longeur Bland.
USEF/AVA 3* Individual Male Vaulting National Championship.
Woolson (Tujunga, Calif.) of Pacific Coast Vaulters claimed his first USEF/AVA 3* Individual Male Vaulting National Championship title with the help of El Doctro and longeur Bland. Woolson won national champion titles at the Bronze and Silver level, but this is his first title at the top tier of U.S. vaulting, earning an overall score of 7.513.
“The most special thing is getting that trophy and seeing all the names of previous American greats, some of which I have vaulted under [their coaching] or with, and to add my name to that same trophy,” said Woolson of the being a national champion. “And, of course, to try and set a good example to up-and-coming vaulters as well I think is an important thing to do.”
Woolson has had a big year in 2021, winning the Garrod’s Spring Classic 3* Individual Male division with El Doctro and longeur Bland in May before heading overseas. In August, he earned the team bronze medal as part of the U.S. Squad and finished 19th in the Individual Male division at the FEI Vaulting World Championships for Seniors. Woolson returned home shortly before the national championships and quickly got reacquainted with El Doctro.
“We reconnected fast and obviously made it work,” explained Woolson. “This was [El Doctro’s] first real year of competition. He was a little spooky at times, but he was able to give me some good rounds, so I am definitely am proud of him for that.”
Woolson plans to have a quiet end of the season, but he is thankful to all of his supporters this past year and is thinking ahead toward next year. “I have some big goals I want to accomplish individually,” said Woolson. “Now, it is about keeping up the fitness and moving into the new year because that is the same thing my competitors are doing, so I have got to make sure I am up to that same level with them.”
For more information on the USEF/AVA Vaulting National Championships, visit americanvaulting.org.
Watch on-demand coverage from September 18 at the USEF/AVA Vaulting National Championships on USEF Network.