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Riders from 17 colleges compete at Wilson

April 11, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - On horses most of them had never worked with before, 111 riders from 17 colleges Sunday competed in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Zone 3 Horse Show at Wilson College.

"That's why it's truly a test of your riding skills, because you're on a strange horse," said Ann O'Shallie, coach of the Wilson College Equestrienne Team. The horses for the various competitions are randomly assigned to riders, she said.

"We don't meet the horse until about five minutes before we go. You just have to be fast friends," said Megan Mendenhall of Mendenhall, Pa., in Chester County. A Wilson senior majoring in equestrian studies, she had finished second in the open over-fences competition in regional competition.

Sunday she finished sixth in her class, not good enough to make the nationals later this month at Cazenovia College in Cazenovia, N.Y.

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"I think I did pretty well. It's just luck of the draw with the horses," said Mendenhall, who was competing on her 22nd birthday. There were just three points separating her from fourth place.

Mendenhall drew Lil Jack, a bay gelding she had ridden in the past. Lil Jack seemed a bit sluggish Sunday, she said.

Not all the riders managed to stay atop their mounts in the competition. Garbed in riding breeches, field boots, hunting coats and riding helmets, a few young women could be seen limping slightly about Hawthorne Arena.

One woman was taken to Chambersburg Hospital as a precaution after falling hard on her back, according to O'Shallie. She said Wilson competes under NCAA regulations, so an ambulance and athletic trainer were on hand in case of any serious mishaps.

Wilson had two other competitors in individual events.

Jess Kalb, a senior from Wescoville, Pa., had finished second in regional competition in the novice over-fences class and placed fifth Sunday in the zone competition. Heather Bolton, a sophomore from Fayette, Maine, finished eighth in the walk, trot and canter competition after placing third in the regionals.

Both are also equestrian studies majors.

The Wilson team, from a school with about 300 students, had come close to making the zone competition, finishing fourth in the regionals among 14 teams, said O'Shallie. Penn State University and Bucknell University ended up representing the region at the zone competition, said O'Shallie, who is in her third year as coach.

On Sunday Fairfield University of Fairfield, Conn., won top honors, followed by the University of Delaware and Penn State.

Wilson had hosted the regional finals two years ago, but this was its first time hosting the zone meet. O'Shallie said team members had spent much of the semester planning the event.

The meet ended Wilson's season, but Mendenhall, who finished third in her event as a sophomore, will compete beyond college. The regional reserve high-point rider in the regular season, she'll continue riding in noncollegiate competitions after graduation in May and help run the family horse farm.

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