Western equestrian team captures national championship!

2015 IHSA Western National Champions!
2015 IHSA Western National Champions!

by Elizabeth Ellis for Berryvikings.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The Berry College Vikings scored 22 points and placed first at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships, which concluded on Sunday.

The championship is the second western crown for the Vikings in the past 5 years as Berry won the title in 2011, too. For all Berry sports, it's the seventh national team championship.

The Vikings started the team competition on Sunday with AnnaLee Cooley placing second in team advanced horsemanship. Amanda Petersen then earned an individual national championship in team intermediate horsemanship. At that point, Berry moved one point ahead of West Texas A&M with one more class to go.

Elizabeth Poczobut competed in the last team class of the day. She was 4th and the Vikings sealed the championship. The team won by a margin of three points with The University of Findlay (19 points) in second place. West Texas A&M was third with 18 points.

"We are ecstatic and thankful for all of our hard work paying off," said Berry Head Coach Margaret Knight. "It was a great show, and Debra Wright was such an amazing resource to have. The sportsmanship amongst the women was also amazing. I also want to thank Dr. Hart for making the trip, and being so supportive. We hope he comes every year!"

Poczobut also was honorable mention in the AQHA high-point rider class. Taylor Eickhoff earned honorable mention in individual beginner horsemanship.

"Having an opportunity to witness our equestrian team capture Berry's seventh national title is a memory that will be with me forever," said Tom Hart, Berry's athletic director. "Watching the ladies compete with such poise and strength was inspiring. Combine that with the fact that all of them were studying for finals when not competing and you have living examples of true student-athletes. The IHSA puts on a really great event. I was impressed with the amount of preparation that goes into each ride. Coaches Knight and Wright had a game plan and the ladies executed all weekend."

The final Berry placings are as follows:

Open Reining: Elizabeth Poczobut- 8th

Open Horsemanship: Elizabeth Poczobut- 4th

Advanced Horsemanship: Annalee Cooley- 2nd

Novice Horsemanship: Mariel Wrench- 1st

Beginner Horsemanship: Ashlyn Clay- 8th

Intermediate Horsemanship: Amanda Petersen- 1st (pictured below)