Nov 15, 2021

Adequan®/USEF Youth Team Challenge East Coast Finals Inaugural Champions Crowned

By TIEC - Edited Press Release
Shannon Brinkman Photography

New for 2021, the Youth Team Challenge series came to its conclusion at Tryon, with teams and individuals competing for titles in the CCI1*, CCI2*-L, and CCI3*-L East Coast Final.

In the CCI3*-L the Area Two/Three/Eight team brought home the win in CCI 3*-L Adequan®/USEF Youth Team Challenge East Coast Finals competition after strong performances all week, featuring riders Alexandra Baugh, Elizabeth Bortuzzo, Benjamin Noonan, and Sarah Bowman. The conglomerate whittled their eligible scores to three after Bortuzzo retired during Cross-Country competition, but it was smooth sailing for the remaining trio and resulted in a total score of 119.1.

CCI 3*-L Adequan®/USEF Youth Team Challenge East Coast Finals Team Winners in their presentation ceremony, alongside Jenni Autry, Sharon Decker and Max Corocan. Shannon Brinkman Photography

The team composed of riders from Areas Five and Six ran into some penalties when rider falls forced fewer than three team members to complete all phases. Nevertheless, riders Kit Ferguson, Zara Flores-Kinney, Barret Phillips, and Savannah Gwin brought home a reserve team placing on a score of 1206.2 [1000 point penalty for an incomplete score in Show Jumping].

Winning teammates Noonan, Bowman, Baugh, and Bortuzzo were highly complimentary of the opportunity to compete on a team, despite not knowing each other well in advance of the Finals.

“Being on the team this weekend, it’s wonderful because I enjoy the people I’m around. Having it [a team] in a lower pressure, but also high-pressure situation, it lets you be a part of a team, and you’re wanting the best for your other teammates,” said Noonan.

“I’ve never been on an Eventing team. I’ve never met anyone else on my team, or on the three star team, and we get here and we act like we’ve known each other forever,” said Bowman. “And overall, it’s a great experience.”

Noonan and Keep Kitty, his own 2011 Hanoverian mare (Kolibris Vulkano Dree Boeken x Escudo 19), were also champions in the individual bracket, completing the weekend on a score of 38.5. Second and third went to Alexandra Baugh, who rode MHS Fernhill Finale, the 2012 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Verdi x Olympic Lux) owned by Altorac Farm, to reserve and a score of 38.8, and her own I Spye, the 2011 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Harlequin du Carel x Lombardo), to a score of 41.4 for third.

“I was a little bit disappointed in Dressage, because I did not have the test I was hoping for,” Noonan relayed. “But, I tried to ignore that and move on … I had one of the best, maybe the best Cross-Country rounds I’ve had in my entire life. Show Jumping is my favorite phase, and my horse’s favorite phase, and it just all came together. So, we had a really great weekend, and we love being at Tryon. It’s absolutely incredible being here,” he raved.

CCI 2*-L Adequan®/USEF Youth Team Challenge East Coast Finals Team Winners in their presentation ceremony, alongside Jenni Autry, Sharon Decker and Max Corocan. Shannon Brinkman Photography

Area Two took the win in CCI 2*-L Adequan®/USEF Youth Team Challenge East Coast Finals competition over five other teams, finishing on a score of 115.8 with teammates Jackson Dillard, Mia Braundel, Maddie Hale, and Kiera Kenny. Multiple riders or horses contested their first CCI2*-L at TIEC this weekend, including Kenny, Baundel, and Hale, whose horse also contested her first CCI 2*-L.

Dillard, who competes on the Clemson University Eventing Team, noted that “it’s always interesting when you work around other young professionals or up-and-coming young riders. They all have different backgrounds, and they all have different ways of interpreting things that are asked of you throughout the weekend, so being able to work with my teammates allowed me to learn a lot, and I’ll take a lot away from this weekend.”

Jackson Dillard and Layla Q. Shannon Brinkman Photography

“I love Area Two,” added Kenny, “and I’m very grateful to have been part of the team and it’s been really cool meeting everyone else on it. I have really good support, so my pressure was only as much as I put on myself. I was extremely happy with the outcome and really happy with my horse, who’s just been an amazing teacher for me this year. It’s very special.”

Braundel reflected, “As a young professional, I really like being able to start getting team experience now. For the future, when we start going on to bigger things, I think it’s really helpful to be able to do this and have this experience.”

Hale agreed, saying, “I was just really grateful to have this experience and be part of the team. It was really amazing [to have] a team environment and I got to meet a lot of new people and new friends.”

Dillard was also first and third in the Individual competition, taking first with Layla Q, his 2011 Hanoverian mare (Loerke x Anhaltiner E), and earning third aboard Elmo, his 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Van Gogh x Animo). “It was a wonderful experience to be here with Layla Q and Elmo this weekend. [Layla Q] really showed me what she’s capable of, and we’re going to keep moving forward with that. I look forward to it.” He concluded, “I’m nothing more than a product of the people behind me, so whether that’s my mother, my groom, the Clemson Eventing team where I’m a student, there’s a lot of people standing behind me that got me here and allowed me to be successful this weekend.”

Two teams made it to the podium at the conclusion of CCI 1*-L Adequan®/USEF Youth Team Challenge East Coast Finals competition, with Area Two edging into the lead after Show Jumping for the win on a total score of 144.8 between teammates Ella Braundel, Caroline Brown, Grace Mykityshyn, and Juliana Cassar.

CCI 1*-L Adequan®/USEF Youth Team Challenge East Coast Finals Team Winners in their presentation ceremony, alongside Jenni Autry, Sharon Decker and Max Corocan. Shannon Brinkman Photography

The team built by riders from Areas Three, Seven, and Five earned a reserve team title on the weekend, scoring a collective 153.3 points among Camryn Chung, Crockett Miller, Ava Holmes, and Chloe Johnson.

Johnson also took top honors in the individual race, almost beating one of her idols, Boyd Martin, aboard Chilli Bean. Canada’s Claudia Oppedisano and her own God of Thunder, the 2006 Thoroughbred Cross gelding (Matter of Courage x Unknown), scored 31.7 after three phases. Grace Mykityshyn and MTF Cooley Classic, the 2010 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Ars Vivendi x Olympic Lux) owned by Plain Dealing Farm, were third, going home with a podium-worthy score of 37.5 points.

“Chilli was absolutely a saint over the weekend. For Dressage, she perked right up as soon as we went in the ring and put down our best test ever,” Johnson divulged. “On Cross-Country, she’s always on it. She loves it, and she likes to go fast. She’ll cut any angle. I was really happy with her in the stadium. We took a rail, but that’s okay, it happens, and it was just an honest rail.

“He’s been my role model for years, just to be in the position I was in in Dressage and Cross-Country was an absolutely amazing feeling,” Johnson revealed about trading top places with Martin. “I know the horse he’s on, and I know the owner, who’s an amazing woman. After Dressage, just seeing that score … that feeling was absolutely unmatched. Even though we had this rail, which I just edged us out of first, I’m so incredibly proud of my mare. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have competed against Boyd and gotten this experience with her.”

Mykityshyn gushed, “I’m just so happy to have a horse that’s so awesome in settings like this. It helps me stay calm when I get nervous. He was awesome. I feel like we’ve been working super hard on the flat, and I felt like that really paid off and scored a personal best.” She added, “I was really proud of how we were handling my nerves and just trying to get a feel more for him now too, after he’s tired and been here for a long week. He did have two rails, but he was so on it. I couldn’t have asked for a better horse.”

Canadian individual Oppedisano was “speechless” with her horse’s performance all weekend, she explained. “He was just on it for everything. And, he’s a Clydesdale-Thoroughbred, so Cross-Country is not the easiest for him to run. And he was just locked onto everything. I couldn’t have asked for a better week here.”

Better still, she continued, was getting to compete under the lights in Tryon Stadium as the weekend came to a close. “It honestly was breathtaking getting in there,” she admitted. “I was actually kind of hoping to get to go under the lights. It was pretty cool to have that spotlight on us. Although it’s freezing, I’m glad that we got the chance to experience it.”

Johnson and Martin in the CCI 1*-L victory gallop. Shannon Brinkman Photography

Her competitors agreed: “I feel like it definitely made the atmosphere feel bigger. You’ll see all the Grand Prix run under the lights here, and so it just felt like it was such a big deal, but still so chill at the same time,” Johnson commented. “It was just an incredible feeling.”

“It felt like I was in a dream, honestly, walking over here, at sunset, seeing the mountains. I’ve never been here before, and the venue is just amazing. They’ve done such a great job putting on this event,” Mykityshyn concluded.

View full results from the Dutta Corp Tryon International Three-Day Event here.

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I’d like to start my Holiday Pressure Proof Tip with an excerpt from my new book Bolder Braver Brighter.

"Imagine leaning against a tree while your horse grazes happily beside you. You feel the warm sunshine and breeze on your cheek, hear the chirping of nearby birds, and smell the fragrance of the grass and wildflowers. Your horse nickers quietly and all you can think about is how lucky you are to have this horse and this sport and this life… right here, right now.

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