TOWSON, Md. — Goucher had already clinched one of the zone's two bids to the Collegiate Cup Hunter Seat competition at the 2015 IHSA National Horse Show, but head coach Jen Bunty's riding team still had ground to make up on St. Andrews heading into the final rotation at the IHSA Zone IV Championships today.
A first-place performance in novice equitation over fences allowed St. Andrews to turn its two-point deficit in team scoring after six rotations into a 38-36 lead over Goucher, which put the chances of the Gophers repeating as Zone IV champions in some jeopardy.
With Joey Fink (Baltimore, Md./The Park School) earning seven points for placing first in open equitation on the flat, however, Goucher finished the competition with 43 points. A rider from St. Andrews was awarded second place in open flat, good for five points, which created a 43-43 tie between the top two teams.
The tie was broken in favor of Goucher, the 2014-15 high point college from Region I, based on the number of blue ribbons won by each team. Fink claimed two blue ribbons as he also was awarded first place in open fences. Add in the blue ribbons that went to Sarah Lummis (Westminster, Md./Winters Mill) in walk-trot-canter and Joel Brandis (Portland, Ore./Grant) in walk-trot, the Gophers ended up with four.
St. Andrews, the Region III champions, managed only three blue ribbons.
Today's event brought the 2014-15 high point colleges from each of Zone I's five regions together to battle for two bids to nationals. Virginia, champions out of Region II, earned a score of 32 points to finish in third place, while Mary Washington (Region IV) and Virginia Tech (Region V) both ended up with 24 points.
Alison Radgowski (Northport, N.Y./Northport) was up first for Goucher as the competition kicked off with intermediate flat. She was awarded second place, securing five points for the Gophers. In the fifth rotation, Anna Carmichael (Colorado Springs, Colo./William J. Palmer) came away with a red ribbon and five additional points in novice flat.
The Zone IV title is the third in the history of Goucher's riding program and the bid to nationals is the fifth. Last year, Bunty's first as head coach, the Gophers finished in sixth place at nationals.
Fink and one other Goucher rider were successful today in their quest to make it to nationals in individual event competition. Fink will go as the Zone IV reserve champion in open flat; Laura Malone (Weston, Mass./Weston) advanced by placing first in intermediate flat.