Western Team Wins Nationals #SAUEq #sauknights #Nationals2016
LEXINGTON, K.Y. – Over the weekend, while graduation was taking place on campus, the Western team was winning IHSA National Championship for the first time at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“We didn’t have a good start,” said Carla Wennberg, Western Coach. “But the team’s determination and desire carried us to the win.”
The team’s closest win was in 2013 when they placed second. Wennberg said, “Once you get the taste of it, your goal is to win.”
The Western team tied for first with Berry College in Georgia with a score of 19. Second place earned a score of 17. “That’s how tight it was,” said Wennberg.
Six riders on the team were Kara Copeland in reining, Jordan Belanger placing first in beginner horsemanship, placing sixth in intermediate horsemanship Janelle Petruska, Dillon Vaughn placing fourth in novice horsemanship and also won the individual intermediate, Conner Smith placed third in advanced horsemanship and placing third in open horsemanship Mark Mowbray.
Individuals Cailey Culp placed sixth in novice horsemanship while Jarret Vaughn placed second. Natasha Worker placed fifth in individual advanced horsemanship.
“A lot of great leaders have developed from this team. They were amazing together. Helping each other. That’s the best life lesson as a coach, them learning they need each other,” beamed Wennberg.
Not only did the team win, but to Wennberg’s surprise, she won the Western Coach of Nationals Award. Each year IHSA coaches vote on an outstanding coach. She said she laughed and cried more over the past four days than in her whole life.
More tears of joy fell during the graduation ceremony held at the All Tech Arena for four seniors unable to attend the campus ceremony. To the sound of bagpipes playing over the arena speakers, graduates processed. Katie Thomas, Natasha Worker and Kara Copeland graduated with undergraduate degrees while Lindsey Agaliotis, assistant coach, earned her Master of Business Administration.
A special graduate, Vinney, Copeland’s horse, graduated with cap and gown. Leased by St. Andrews for several years, Vinney has participated as a valuable team player in two nationals as well as numerous other shows. He left Lexington to go back home with the Copeland family.
Graduates, family and friends heard words of wisdom by Pebbles Turbeville, Director of Therapeutic Horsemanship and Department Chair of Equine Studies. Some of her top ten suggestions for life included, “Be a lifelong learner. Be honest. Do things that scare you.”
IHSA Founder and CEO Bob Cacchione also spoke and gave gifts to the graduates along with IHSA National Treasurer Naomi Blumenthal.
“Competing against great riders from 400 colleges and universities, some with over 50,000 students, really speaks for the program at St. Andrews,” said Wennberg. “I am proud of our riders and graduates.”
For more information about the St. Andrews Equestrian Program, visit www.sa.edu