USC Aiken riders fare well in Virginia

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IL rider places second

from the University of South Carolina Aiken

AIKEN – The University of South Carolina Aiken eventing (riding) team finished the year strong, placing third in the collegiate championships May 24-27 at the Virginia Horse Trials in Lexington, Va.
“These girls have absolutely blown me away. In my first year as president [of the team], all I wanted to do was make sure everyone at the Intercollegiate Championships knew USC Aiken was there,” said Brooke Webb, a rising senior business major from Indian Land. “I have to say we did more than that, landing in the top three.”
Eventing or horse trials is an equestrian event where a single horse and rider combination compete against other combos in dressage, cross-country and show jumping.
The 2018 U.S. Eventing Association’s Intercollegiate Eventing Championship included 18 institutions, 87 collegiate riders and 23 collegiate teams. Auburn, Clemson, North Carolina State, Texas A&M, the University of Kentucky, the University of Maryland, Texas Christian, Virginia Tech and University of Virginia were among the schools represented.
Overall, the USC Aiken Pacers’ team came in third. Riders on the USC Aiken team were Grace Fulton of Finksburg, Md., a rising sophomore majoring in business; Kirsten LaVassar, a rising senior from Ladson majoring in business; Keileigh McMurray, a rising junior from Columbus, N.C., who is majoring in biology; and Webb.
“The Intercollegiate Championships at VHT provided a great team experience and a clear goal [which we trained for] throughout the spring,” said Fulton.
“Every member worked to come together as a team, to watch and support each other at the show, and it made a huge difference. Every member of the team worked to contribute, and hopefully the trend will continue to next year.”
In addition to placing in the top three collegiate teams, individual Pacers brought home ribbons.
Almost 450 riders at all levels competed in the individual events. These included collegiate and Olympic riders.
The following Pacers earned individual ribbons:
• Webb, second place, open beginner novice category
• Jessica Wymbs of San Jose, second place, beginner novice category
• LaVassar, third place, training category
• Fulton, eighth place, junior young rider open preliminary category
“Personally, I was thrilled with my horse’s go in his first prelim, and I think everyone else was equally as excited for their own rounds,” Fulton said.
The team’s adviser was very proud of its members’ accomplishments.
“The girls and their horses have trained hard all year,” Michelle Hodge said. “They have competed and done well together at collegiate events and individually at area trials. Placing third at VHT collegiate champs is the icing on the cake.
“Our Pacers will continue to work over the summer, keeping themselves and their horses fit and ready for competition this fall,” she added.