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May 7, 2011

It's A Centenary Sweep At The IHSA National Championship

USEF/Cacchione Cup winner Marissa Cohen of Centenary College received hugs from her teammates (wearing hats in honor of the Kentucky Derby) after the awards ceremony.

May 6, Lexington, Ky.

The Centenary University (N.J.) Equestrian Team earned its second Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championship in the last three years. The team maintained its lead in the Collegiate Cup throughout the show, held May 5-7 at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The Centenary team finished the competition with 33 points, with an 11-point lead ahead of Skidmore College (N.Y.) and St. Lawrence University (N.Y.) who tied for second. Mount Holyoke College (Mass.) finished third with 16 points.

The New Jersey school got off to a solid start in Thursday’s opening round of action with Brendan Williams, Natasha Klingenstein and Jessica Pabst earning second places in each of their classes.

Klingenstein, a junior, continued to boost her team’s standings, winning the Collegiate Cup intermediate equitation over fences on Friday. Kayla Felstedt also contributed with her third place in the walk/trot/canter hunter seat equitation. The team ended Friday with 26 points.

The Cyclones increased their lead until the action concluded on Saturday. Kathryn Haley stepped up and won the Collegiate Cup open hunter seat equitation on the flat. Haley was two for two in her flatting, as she also won Thursday’s individual open hunter seat equitation on the flat.

Though Haley had already captured one blue, she had a rocky first ride on Saturday morning in the Collegiate Cup open equitation over fences.

“I was pretty nervous this morning because I had a little blooper in my jumping round, so I was nervous to come back and redeem myself,” said Haley, 18. She and Cornell University-owned Clifford made easy work of the class, including the additional testing phase in which the judges asked the riders to work without stirrups.

Centenary coaches Michael Dowling and Heather Clark were proud of their team, and both agreed that their mandatory “no-stirrup” sessions in the saddle made their riders strong and well prepared for the championship.

Cohen Captures Cacchione Cup

Marissa Cohen capped a successful weekend for Centenary College as she rode to the win in the USEF/Cacchione Cup Hunter Seat Equitation. The senior from West Chester, Pa., has competed in Nationals each of her four years. As she prepares to graduate in one week, she couldn’t have ended her intercollegiate career any better.

Though Cohen grew up riding a variety of horses, she still got the jitters when she was in the process of drawing her mounts for the weekend.

“I get more nervous for the horse draw than anything else, but this is the first time I’ve been able to sleep so I don’t think I was that nervous. It’s better when I don’t over-think it,” said Cohen.

Cohen’s draw for Saturday’s work-off was Skidmore College’s Best Boy, who she’s ridden in previous IHSA competition.

“He’s a big equitation horse, so I knew I just had to go in there and get him on his game, and he took care of me,” she said.

Cohen was also pleased that she could give her mother, Gaye Goldeman Cohen, a unique Mother’s Day present.

“My mom is a professional [equestrian], so I rode for her. This is probably the best [Mother’s Day] gift ever for her because she’s a horse person,” said Cohen, 22.

Cohen chose Centenary in part because it was close to home, so she could still ride the horses at her mother’s Low Key Farm (Pa.). However, she is unsure of whether she will follow in her mother’s footsteps to ride as a professional.

“Right now, I’m going to go to school and get my [masters in business administration] and finish out my business program and continue riding. We have a lot of sales horses and green horses for clients, so we’re going to work through that,” said Cohen.

Footing Retires Like A Champ

As Samantha Gunnison entered the ring on Footing for the alumni hunter seat equitation on the flat, she felt more pressure than usual.

“Before I went in, they told me that it was his last IHSA ride ever, so I wanted him to finish out well,” said Gunnison, 24.

But she didn’t have too much time to think about her nerves, as chaos briefly broke out in the ring after one competitor parted ways with her mount and the loose horse excitedly galloped around the ring for a few minutes. The alumni competitors had to dismount and exit until the situation was under control. The class and judging then began anew.

Gunnison, a 2008 graduate of the University of Georgia, has competed as an alumna for three years. She had minimal preparation coming into Nationals, as the Roswell, Ga., native completed law school last week.

Gunnison helped Sewanee University's Footing go out on top, and she joked that perhaps she should also retire from IHSA competition.

“This would be quite the note to go out on, but I think I’ll be sticking with it for a while. I love it,” she said.

Complete results from the entire competition can be found here.

2011 IHSA National Championship

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