Jun 12, 2023

Interscholastic Eventing League Team Challenges in Full Force as Summer Kicks Off

By Kaleigh Collett - USEA Staff
Ava Iannamico and WHF Kitaro claimed a top 5 finish in the Stable View Local Charities H.T. Novice Rider-B division to help Willow South Eventing win the IEL Team Challenge. Crawley Photography.

As the school year wraps up in most parts of the United States, grade-school age students are breathing a sigh of relief as they take a break from the textbooks and welcome more free time into their schedules. What does this mean? More time to compete and participate in Interscholastic Team Challenges, of course! The USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL), which is open to USEA Members in 7th through 12th grade, has had a strong start to the season with team challenges hosted since late January in Areas II, III, and IV.

The IEL Team Challenge calendar kicked off at the Stable View Aiken Opener Horse Trials in Aiken, South Carolina, with a win by the Area II Developing Riders Team A. The team, made up of Reese Dellangelo, Macie Brock, and Isabella Craft dominated the competition, winning by over 18 points, with members of the team competing at the Beginner Novice and Novice levels. While this was still early in the season and many riders were knocking the dust off from the competitive break, this wouldn’t be the last time that the Area II Developing Riders Affiliate ended up in podium position at a Team Challenge.

The next IEL Team Challenge, again hosted in Aiken, would see a hard-fought battle between the Area III Young Rider Program and Full Moon Farm Affiliates at the Sporting Days Farm March H.T. In the end, the Area III Young Rider team of Lizzie Brennan, Collins Zgutowicz, Jake Tessler, and Madison Zgutowicz would take the victory by less than 3 points. Just a month later, the Area III Young Riders clinched their second consecutive win, this time with the team of Collins Zgutowicz, Tessler, and Madison Zgutowicz, at the Poplar Place April H.T. in Hamilton, Georgia.

Carolyn Rice & The Fernhill Fox finished in second place in the Modified Rider division at Stable View Local Charities H.T. to help Willow South Eventing win the IEL Team Challenge. Crawley Photography

One more IEL Team Challenge occurred in Area III at the Stable View Local Charities H.T. in May before the eventing community made their pilgrimage back North for the summer. This time, the Willow South Eventing team of Molly McLaughlin, Carolyn Rice, and Ava Iannamico took home the top spot on a final score of 94.905, which was more than 20 points below their closest competitors.

Molly McLaughlin and Top L'Amour WV won the Open Novice-A division at the Stable View Local Charities H.T. for Willow South Eventing's IEL team. Crawley Photography

On the same weekend, Waredaca Horse Trials in Gaithersburg, Maryland, hosted the largest IEL Team Challenge yet this year. Six teams competed head-to-head for the Champion title, and it was the East Coast Eventers that came out victorious. The three-member team of Mia Valdez, Gretchen Wolfe, and Claire Allen finished on a score of 97.282, which is an even more impressive feat considering the team didn’t have a fourth member to count as their drop score. The Area II Developing Riders came in a close second, and a scramble team with members from Full Moon Farm, Good Counsel Eventing Team, and the Iron Bridge Hounds Pony Club Affiliates completed the podium.

Mia Valdez and Perfect Storm on the Training cross-country course at the Waredaca H.T. in May. GRC Photography

The battle between the Area II Developing Riders and the East Coast Eventers continued through the month of May with each affiliate adding one more win to their repertoire. The Area II Developing Rider Team of Charlotte Carrajat, Leeci Rowsell, Olivia Hicok, and Elisabeth Tansey dominated the Team Challenge at the Plantation Field May H.T., while the East Coast Eventers took home another win in a large field at the Fair Hill International Recognized H.T. with Michael Baugh, Abbigail Centeno, and Natalie Griger on their roster.

Abbey Centeno and Miss. Moneypenny at competing for the East Coast Eventers at the Fair Hill International Recognized H.T. Amy Dragoo Photography.

The most recent IEL Team Challenge at the Mill Creek Pony Club Horse Trials in Kansas City, Missouri, saw a new name grace the top of the leaderboard: Undercover Pressure. The team, comprised of Alyssa Kendrick, Ella Dall, Michaela Frye, and Aylah Siegel, had members competing in the Starter through Preliminary divisions, demonstrating that all levels of competitors can come together to be successful in the IEL.

IEL Team Challenges will continue throughout the summer with several opportunities in Area I, II, and VIII. Are you interested in joining the Interscholastic Eventing League? View the list of current IEL Affiliates and reach out to an Affiliate contact in your Area to learn more. If you would like to start a team in your area, follow instructions on the IEL homepage and contact staff liaison Kaleigh Collett at [email protected] if you have any questions.

Don’ forget, next year IEL members will be invited to compete in the first annual IEL Championship. All IEL affiliates will be welcome and encouraged to enter to compete at the event in the spring of 2024. There’s no better time than now to start preparing for this exciting opportunity! Click here to view the full list of IEL Team Challenges for 2023. More information regarding the inaugural IEL Championship will be forthcoming.

To learn more about the IEL, visit useventing.com/iel.

About the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL)

In August 2020, the USEA Board of Governors approved the creation of the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) as an official program of the USEA. The mission of IEL is to unite junior riders who are in the 7-12th grade and provide a supportive community through which students can continue to pursue their riding interests. A group of junior members in the 7th-12th grade who share a common bond, such as the same barn, school, Pony Club, or other connection, register with the USEA as an interscholastic team. Click here to learn more about the Interscholastic Eventing League.

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