Skidmore Wins Tournament of Champions Spring Classic and Takes Series Reserve Champion

The Champs: Skidmore College

Edited Press Release

Fifteen college teams from five different IHSA zones competed Saturday, March 23 in the 2024 Series Finale of the Tournament of Champions horse show series, hosted by the University of Findlay at their James Childs Equestrian Center in northwest Ohio. It started as a free-for-all, with Goucher’s Kellen Sullivan winning the first section of Open Fences, followed with a blue for Skidmore’s Kenya Sanders in the second Open section. Miami and Purdue won the intermediates, and it was off to the races.

Skidmore won both the Open classes—Harper Sanford won the flat, and by the midday schooling break, following all the open and intermediate flat and fences, Skidmore had already put up 22 points in four classes, with Sacred Heart at 18, Findlay 17, Purdue 16, Goucher 14. Their early lead would build throughout the day, with everyone else fighting for second place. Skidmore got four wins in all, from Sanders, Sanford, Elise Sigety in Limit Fences, and Bevin Dean in Intro, totaling a 43 point Champion Team day.

Sacred Heart also had four blues but theirs were split between two teams , with Erin Phillips and Kayla Destephanis winning for the Red Team, while Amanda Cosentino and Sophia Poling’s wins went on the scoreboard for the White Team. Sacred Heart Red came within one point of Skidmore, finishing as Reserve Champion with 42 points. The home team, Findlay Black, finished in third place with 35, with Sacred Heart White again one point back in 4th with a 34.

Skidmore and Sacred Heart dominated the Tournament of Champion Medal classes as well, with Skidmore’s Kenya Sanders taking Champion honors in the High Medals, while Sacred Heart’s Carina Muratore finished in Reserve. Later in the day, a pair of Sacred Heart riders led the field of 21 Low Medal entries, with Kayla Destephanis in Champion and Sophia Poling in Reserve.

Julia Hennek, a high school junior from Indianapolis, won the Equestrian Talent Search Medal, with the help of Purdue coach Kathryn Kraft. Samantha Bourque of Maryland finished in Reserve Champion, with help from Coach Belinda Colgan of Skidmore College. The ETS Medal is a class for high school riders who want to ride in college. Most of the entries come out of the ETS clinics, which are hosted a dozen weekends a year as recruiting events by college teams, at Virginia Tech, Delaware Valley University, Goucher College, Sweet Briar College, Mount Holyoke College, University of Findlay, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Hollins University, and more. The ETS title sponsor is Emory & Henry College, who presented a $5000 Emory & Henry scholarship to Hennek as the winner.

The Spring Classic was a the fourth and final of the 2023-24 season, and teams were scrambling for points to raise their standings in the series. SCAD did not attend the finale, as they were so far ahead in the series they could literally take a zero and still end up as Series Champs. Several others entered the day with a real shot at the Reserve Champion banner. Findlay, Mount Holyoke, UMass, Purdue, Skidmore, Otterbein and Sacred Heart all had a legitimate chance at Reserve Series Champion, depending on the outcomes of all the others on this day. Skidmore’s day catapulted them past several others to a slim margin over Mount Holyoke, with Sacred Heart two points behind that. As an aside, SCAD had been Series Champion last season, with Sacred Heart in Reserve.

The judge for the Spring Classic was James Morris of Massachusetts. James had once ridden in the Tournament as a Findlay student, before being an assistant coach for Mount Holyoke College for several years, among other things. He is a USEF judge and is very active judging both IHSA and IEA shows.

Show Stewards were: Kari Briggs, Otterbein; Heath Gunnison, Midway; Lauren Tucker, Michigan State.

The 2024-25 Tournament of Champions Series will begin September 21 at Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio. Virginia Tech will host the Holiday Tournament in Blacksburg on December 7, followed by Winter Classic at SCAD and Spring Classic at Findlay. For more information about Tournament of Champions of Equestrian Talent Search, contact the Director, Jim Arrigon at BeckettRunRiding@gmail.com.

T of C Spring Classic Team Standings
Champion: Skidmore College, 43 points
Reserve Champion: Sacred Heart University Red Team, 42 points
3rd: University of Findlay Black Team, 35
4th: Sacred Heart University White Team, 34
5th: Purdue University, 29
6th: Goucher College, 26
7th: University of Findlay Orange Team, 23
8th: Miami University, 22
University of Massachusetts, 20
Michigan State University White Team, 17
Otterbein University, 17
Midway University Yellow Team, 14
Midway University Blue Team, 12
Michigan State Green Team, 10
Alfred University, 9

T of C SERIES 2023-2024 Champion Final Standings
Champion: Savannah College of Art & Design, Savannah, Georgia, 102 points
Reserve Champion: Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, 76 points
3rd: Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, 74
4th: Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut, 72
5th: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, 69
6th: University of Findlay, Findlay, Ohio, 65
7th: University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, 53
8th: Goucher College, Towson, Maryland, 47
9th: Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, 46
10th: (tie) Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia, and Albion College, Albion, Michigan, 33

2023-2024 Series Champions

Tournament of Champions High Medal
Champion: Kenya Sanders. Skidmore College
Reserve Champion: Carina Muratore, Sacred Heart University
3rd: Kellen Sullivan, Goucher College
4th: Rae Palladino, University of Findlay
5th: Emma Grimes, Sacred Heart University
6th: Abby Talcott, Purdue University
7th: Kylie Hwalek, Sacred Heart University
8th: Harper Sanford, Skidmore College

Skidmore’s Kenya Sanders won both the Open Fences and the High Medal.

Tournament of Champions Low Medal
Champion: Kayla Destephanis, Sacred Heart University
Reserve Champion: Sophia Poling, Sacred Heart University
3rd: Abby Shelchuk, Purdue University
4th: Riley Whelan, Midway University
5th: Anabela Eriksen-Brottet, Miami University
6th: Elliana Forgione, Sacred Heart University
7th: Sydney Fish, Michigan State University
8th: Ani McIntyre, Skidmore College

Sacred Heart had BOTH the Champion and Reserve in the Low Medal—Kayla Destephanis on the left and Sophia Poling on the right.