W.F. West Equestrian Team Completes Record Setting Season

The W.F. West Equestrian team poses for a photo last Monday after finishing third at the regional competition. (L to R): Miley Iverson, Clara Price, McKayla Dipo, Morgan Leback, Head Coach Adam Kasper, Colin Clevenger, Kennedi Miller, Josie Hamilton and Brian Shoblom.

REGIONALS: Bearcats Reach Regionals for First Time in History and Place Third

By Matt Baide

mbaide@chronline.com

While every other high school sport wrapped up by the end of May, there was one sport still practicing and getting ready for the best competition in the Pacific Northwest.

The W.F. West Equestrian Team wrapped up their season on June 14-16 in Redmond, Ore., with a third place finish as a team at the Pacific Northwest Invitational Competition, the regional high school equestrian championships.

The team consists of Miley Iverson, Clara Price, McKayla Dipo, Morgan Leback, Colin Clevenger, Kennedi Miller, Josie Hamilton, Britan Shoblom, Julia Davis, Zoie Due and Sydney VonMoos. Jennings finished second in the barrel racing competition and VonMoos competed at regionals in the break-away roping competition.

Before regionals, the Bearcat team placed third in the state competition on May 16-19 in Moses Lake. Jennings finished second in the state barrel racing competition with a time of 14.207 seconds. VonMoos took third place in the break-away roping competition.

“They did very, very well. They’ve coalesced into a cohesive unit, they’re really just come together and the results show it,” Equestrian head coach Adam Kasper said. “Actually, this year was the first time we’ve really placed in state which is over at Moses Lake and that qualified us for the regionals.”

The equestrian season almost runs as long as the entire school year, with riders starting practice in October and ending the season around May or June.

Kasper was particularly pleased with the younger players on his team.

“Strong, particularly with the younger kids. A couple of them are freshmen and sophomores, they’re unusually strong this year as compared to other years where they’ve needed the first couple years to get experience and improve their horsemanship and riding so as juniors and seniors,” Kasper said. “They’re very competitive, but this year our freshman are amazingly competitive.”

It was quite a memorable season for the Bearcat equestrian team. Rider Josie Hamilton noted her most memorable moment this year was competing and placing in state and regionals in her freshman year while Kennedi Miller said her most memorable moment was looking on the placing sheet and seeing she had made it to state, despite breaking her arm and only competing in two meets this season. Kaeli Emerich was able to take a horse out of retirement and get her back into shape to compete on, making it the most memorable moment of her season.

While equestrian is typically an individual sport, Kasper was pleased to see his team grow and bond with each other throughout the season.

“I’m extremely proud of this team. The kids have just really melded and grown together and actually operate as a team as opposed to a lot of other horse shows where you’re individuals,” Kasper said.

This sentiment was echoed by some of the riders. Morgan Leback felt her most memorable moment was being able to make new friends and build a strong drill team, which helped her get out of her comfort zone. Julia Davis said her most memorable moment was the award ceremony at regionals when they announced that the Bearcats had earned third place, sharing the bronze medal with her teammates.

Kasper wanted to make sure he thanked his drill coach Crusi Joblonski, gaming coach Morgan Flatt and assistant coach Stephanie VonMoos for helping him and the team reach the level of success that they did, but he also wanted to make sure he thanked the parents for all the work they have to do for the riders.

“This is an expensive sport, as you know. It’s long lasting, nine months practically. The parents, without them, the kids wouldn’t be able to get to practices, get to meets,” Kasper said. “They’re just critical for the success of this team and this program. It’s strictly a volunteer program, there’s no support whatsoever from the schools. We support ourselves and the kids try to go out and get sponsorships and that kind of thing.”

While the riders may be in the offseason, that doesn’t mean they won’t be keeping their skills sharp for next season. Many of the riders compete in 4-H and will also be riding in the Southwest Washington Fair in August. Kasper is excited about what next season and the future holds for the equestrian squad.

“In the offseason, they have to keep themselves and their horses in shape and so a lot of them will do 4-H. A lot of them will do local barrel races, breed shows and that kind of thing/ We start again towards the end of September after 4-H State Fair,” Kasper said. “What I’m looking for for next year is an even stronger team than what we finished with this year. If they can keep up their skills during the summer, they’ll be that much further ahead when we start practicing in October.”

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