May 28, 2023

Pacers on the Podium: University of South Carolina - Aiken Claims 2023 USEA Intercollegiate Championship

USEA/Shelby Allen photo

Mill Spring, N.C.—May 28The final tally for the seventh annual USEA Intercollegiate Championships came down to the wire with the show jumping phase proving influential. After the very last fence was cleared, it was the small, but mighty contingent from the University of South Carolina - Aiken that came out on the top of the podium.

The Pacers kept the heat on overnight leaders from Auburn University all weekend, but three double-clear rounds on the last day gave the USC Aiken team the University’s first ever Intercollegiate Championship title on a score of 89.709.

With only five riders in attendance, USC Aiken was one of the smallest schools in the field, but they were quickly assimilated into the bigger intercollegiate community as a whole as riders from all colleges and universities stepped up to make sure every single competitor felt supported.

“I’ve honestly only seen such friendliness toward other teams in Pony Club. Everyone is just so happy and inviting. Every time I pass someone going to or from a course they’d wish me good luck or ask me how my ride was,” said USC Aiken student Carson Langenberg. “It was honestly phenomenal. I can honestly say I’m happy for everyone here—everyone did an amazing job. I’m so proud of everyone.”

Langenberg’s final weighted score of 33.155 was achieved in partnership with her own Monterrey La Silla, a 15-year-old Thoroughbred, in the Training Rider division.

The Pacer’s best result came from Sydney Shinn with her own HSH Crypto. Shinn not only had the lowest intercollegiate finishing result in the entire competition (23.290), but she also won the Open Preliminary division in her own right.

“I couldn’t have been more impressed with Crypto all three days. He did a personal best in the dressage, finished double-clear in the cross-country for the first time at the level and double-clear in the show jumping, so I couldn’t have been happier with how he was all weekend,” she said.

Heidi Gyselinck finished on her dressage score to support the USC Aiken squad with a weighted result of 33.264 aboard her own 6-year-old Thoroughbred Bricktop JHF.

“My horse is pretty young, so to see him come into a busy environment like this and just give me his all every day, especially in the rain and in a strange place, it’s amazing,” Gyselinck said. “This is my third or fourth time coming to champs, and this is the best we’ve ever done. The way that the teams all came together to support the smaller schools, given that it’s such a fierce competition, they all just want the best for everyone and the horses. It’s really great to see that kind of teamwork.”

Recent graduate Alexa Duncan, this championship result was especially sweet. “I’m a senior, and this is my first and last championship, so this is really quite exciting to win, but I think it was awesome to see everyone showing up and showing out,” Duncan said.

She had one rail down with Deborah and Sarah Kuhn’s Ringfort K Special.

The dominant Auburn University slipped to the Reserve Champion position by less than a point. Their Auburn University Tigers team of Lara Roberts, Suzanne Hillhouse, Grace Montgomery, and Katarina Midgley completed with a team result of 90.674.

The University of Kentucky takes home third place on a score of 91.225. All four of their representatives on the Wildcats team—Hannah Warner, Ajay Ryan, Cameron Stacy, and Lidia Olyha— jumped clear on the final day. They are the only school on the podium to have the entire team go penalty-free in the show jumping.

The Championship competition wasn’t the only thing on the line this weekend; students also went all in for their chance at the coveted Spirit Award. This award was determined by the Tryon International Equestrian Center organizers, who took into account the stall decorations in College Town, the teams’ overall spirit, and general camaraderie throughout the weekend. This prestigious honor was given to the University of Kentucky.

Kentucky was not only the most represented university with a whopping eight teams on the roster, but they consistently went out of their way to pull other schools, especially their scramble mates from Baylor University and University of Louisville, into their Wildcat orbit.

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About the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program

The USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program was established in 2014 to provide a framework within which eventing teams and individual competitors could flourish at universities and colleges across the country. The USEA offers a discount of $25 on annual USEA memberships for current students of universities and colleges registered as Affiliates with the USEA. Many events across the country now offer Intercollegiate Team Challenges where collegiate eventers can compete individually or on teams with their fellow students. In Intercollegiate Team Challenges, each rider’s score is multiplied by a coefficient appropriate for their level to account for differences in level difficulty, and then the individual scores are added together to determine the team score. Click here to learn more about the Intercollegiate Eventing Program.

The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, Kerrits, Horse & Country, U.S. Equestrian, WeRideTogether, and World Equestrian Brands for sponsoring the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program.

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