MHS Equestrian team takes third at States

Sydnie Uphoff, Assistant Editor


   The MHS Equestrian team has had a successful season, earning the District Champions title, and the Regionals Reserve Champions title. After this, they went on to earn third at the State Championship meet.

Like many fall sports, the team began practicing mid-summer. Their district meets were held throughout September occurring each Saturday after school started. The regional meet was held Oct. 1-3, and the State Championship meet occurred Oct. 14-17.

The girls had an impressive showing at the district meet.  Because the team has 11 riders, they are an A team. There are four divisions- A, B, C, and D, based on the number of riders on the team. Each of the meets had their own set of patterns for the riders to complete with their horses. After three great meets, Milford took first place in its division. The top two teams in each division move on to Regionals, where Milford faced tough competition ,but ultimately finished second as reserve champs to South Lyon.

The State Championship is an intense ordeal with four days of showing. Each day begins at  6 a.m. with feeding horses and mucking stalls. Classes began at 8 a.m. every day and would go as late as 9 p.m.

When the Milford team wasn’t riding, they were taking care of horses, hanging out with teammates and then supporting and cheering each other on.

The team remained in fifth place both Thursday and Friday before having a successful day of showing on Saturday and moving up to third place. For the rest of the weekend, the placings were tight for the top five teams ,who were all within 40 points of each other. Milford managed to stay in third place, even with the points coming down to the last class. “Placing at states is really hard,” Senior Bria Washburn said. “The competition was tough and all the teams were really strong.” With 10 teams competing and four riders per team in each class, riders had to do very well to place.

That being said, nine out of the team’s eleven riders received top ten placings at the meet.

“My proudest moment this year was seeing so many of our student athletes accomplishing their goals as riders at such a high level, and seeing everyone enjoy every moment,” Coach Louise Kavanaugh said. The MHS Equestrian Team coaches always maintain a positive and supportive attitude, which makes competing a lot of fun. Kavanaugh states that her philosophy as a coach has always been: “you get the best out of others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but within them. It’s something I consciously model in every aspect of my time with these riders and to see it shining through this year is such a proud moment for me.”

With 2-3 hour practices, twice per week and 12-plus-hour meet days, the team quickly becomes like a family. The team makes an effort to hang out outside of practices doing things like going shopping, getting ice cream, and getting dinner together.

“My favorite memory so far would have to be all the days we’ve taken to hang out with each other a part from practices and meets,” Sophomore Kendall Kopp said. “It has made all of us closer as a team which has immensely helped us both in and out of the arena.”

Because the state meet took place over homecoming week, the team put together their own dance, complete with a speaker and a dance floor. It was set up in a gazebo outside at the fair grounds and the parents decorated it with streamers and lights. The team all went out and bought dresses before the meet so that they could make the most of missing homecoming at Milford. “My favorite memory from the team was our Homecoming we had at States,” Senior Jessica Stanek added. Many of the team members agreed that it was a highlight of the season.

While the team had a blast at States, it was bittersweet for everyone because of the five seniors. There were many tears and hugs over the weekend, knowing it was the last time showing together. “This team has changed my life,” Washburn said. “I’m going to miss these girls more than anything.”

Although it is hard to say goodbye, the seniors agreed that placing third at States was a great way of ending four amazing years together.

Overall, the team had a fantastic finish.

“Going into the start of the season telling the team we will be top three in the state, and then helping them accomplish that goal was pretty awesome,” Coach Kavanaugh said.

MHS Equestrian taking a team picture at closing ceremony during the State Championship Meet. (Sydnie Uphoff)