MOLINE, Ill.--The Adrian College Bulldogs Stock and Hunt Seat teams continued to make program history here over the weekend at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Regional Championships, hosted by Black Hawk College.
The Stock team, which was represented by sophomores Sam Foster and Rachel Kanaziz, performed well at the semifinal championships.
Kanaziz, who competed in the novice horsemanship, made it through the prelims, then onto the finals round before eventually earning a spot to compete at the national championships at the Kentucky Horse Park on May 5-8. Foster, who also competed in novice horsemanship, had a beautiful horsemanship pattern, but did not advance to the finals.
Before this season, Adrian had never reached the regional semifinals in English or Western.
"Stock Seat has worked so hard on polishing their skills and being better horsemen and it has paid off," Adrian first-year coach Jaclynn Gray said. "When I started this job I told myself (that) I want to give these girls the tools to take it all the way to the national championships this year--we made sure it happened!
"This is huge for AC. We not only broke all school records this season, we said 'hey, we are here to stay and we can compete with the best of them," stated Gray. "I couldn't be more proud, and honored to get to be a part of this journey and represent the College."
Hunt seat competed at regionals as well, where sophomore Taylor VanMaele won the region championships in the novice over fences event and advanced onto the Zone Championships on April 2 at Williowbrooke Farm in Plymouth Charter, Mich. That's where VanMaele will have a chance to earn a spot in the national championships in Kentucky, too.
"Taylor had to have a ride-off for first or second place, having to go jump a course again, on a different horse and she won her ride-off. That gave her the crown as a region champion," said Gray.
Sophomore Morgan Leja placed sixth in the region championships in the novice over fences class.
Senior Lindsay Durdel rode in the beginner walk trot canter, but did not place.
"Taylor knows jumping is her strong suit, and she is one of the leaders for the hunt seat team in the jumping pen," Gray noted. "She has a great natural ability when it comes to riding, and I enjoy watching her mature into a great rider and even better horsemen!
"All three of these girls have had a great season, and while Morgan and Lindsay may not have received the results they wanted, they have so much to be proud of; they stayed dedicated and worked hard and made this program and college so proud."
(Editor's note: Photos provided.)