Clarion University's Equestrian Program has won its first ever Western High Point Team Regional Championship on Sunday, March 5.
This automatically qualified the Western Team (senior Jane Price, juniors Cassidy Smith, Cody Little, Dani Hovis, Taylor McClay, sophomore Erin Grigorovich, Victoria Porter, freshmen Kristianna Last, Sabrina Perilli, and Sutherlyn Hollabaugh) to compete in Semi-Finals at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, North Carolina on Sunday, March 26.
The team has won the High Point Team award the last four shows. They were held on Nov. 6, 2016, hosted by Clarion University; Feb. 11, 2017, hosted by West Virginia University; Feb. 12, 2017, hosted by West Virginia University and March 5, 2017, hosted by Slippery Rock University.
A freshman, Sutherlyn Hollabaugh, has also received top awards. She was the High Point Rider (best rider at the show) in the last two Slippery Rock and West Virginia shows and was the High Point Rider Reserve four times at the West Virginia, Clarion, West Virginia and Slippery Rock shows.
Five Western riders qualified for six classes in the IHSA Zone 2 Region 5 Regionals held on Sunday, March 5. Two won first place. Captain Taylor McClay, a junior from Greenville, Pa., a nursing major with a minor in psychology placed first in Beginner Western Horsemanship making her the Regional Champion. Sutherlyn Hollabaugh, a speech pathology major from Guys Mills, Pa., was the Regional Champion in Open Western Horsemanship and she also competed in Open Reining. Sabrina Perilli, an accounting major from Moon Township, was Reserve Regional Champion in Novice Western Horsemanship. Speech pathology major Cassidy Smith from Clinton, Pa., competed in Advanced Western Horsemanship and won second place making her Reserve Regional Champion. All four qualified as individuals to compete in semi finals. The first and second place winners advanced to the Western Semi-Finals on Saturday, March 25. Nursing major Dani Hovis from Emlenton, Pa., placed third in Intermediate Western Horsemanship II.
Two English Equestrian team members have also qualified for IHSA Zone 2 Region 5 Regionals held at Slippery Rock University on Saturday, March 18. Senior Katelyn Maille, a speech pathology and audiology major with a minor in psychology, qualified in Novice Equitation of the Flat. Katelyn is from Pittsfield, Pa. Junior Natalee McCarthy from Milford, Pa., is a biology pre-med major minoring in psychology will be competing in Walk Trot Canter Equitation. The IHSA Zone Finals are being held at Skidmore College in New York on April 8.
The Clarion Equestrian team is also involved with National Down Syndrome Society. The members are currently selling Lions Club brooms with 100 percent of the profits going toward the NDSS. One of the Western rider's brother has Down Syndrome and the team traveled to Altoona Saturday, March 4, to support him in a floor hockey Special Olympics event. In the fall of 2017, the program will be promoting and supporting Down Syndrome Awareness at our Clarion Western Horse show.
In the fall of 2016, the team sponsored VARHA – which is one eight-week therapeutic riding session for an individuals with special needs to receive therapy through horseback riding. For 2017, four Clarion Equestrian riders were named to the Student-Athletes IHSA Academic Honor All Academic First Team and four riders were named to the All-Academic Second Team. First Team is achieving a grade point average of 3.8 or higher and the Second Team is achieving a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.
The Clarion University Equestrian Club was established in 2009 at Clarion University, Venango as a club sport. Daly Fuller, coordinator of Intramurals and Recreation at Venango serves as the club advisor. The club sport is open to all university students studying at Venango and Clarion campuses.