Lexington, KY - Top vaulters from throughout the U.S. flocked to the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park to stake their claim on 2012 USEF/AVA National Vaulting Championship honors, August 2-5, 2012. A total of 10 national titles were on the line, as Gold, Silver and Bronze sections were held in Individual Female and Male Championships. Additionally, National Championship competition was contested in A, B and C Team sections and Pas de Deux. The USEF/AVA National Vaulting Championships were held in conjunction with the National Festival hosting 291 vaulters from 21 states and 3 countries. Adding excitement to the weekend, the rising stars of the sport had the opportunity to vault alongside the best in the game.
Individual Female Championships
For a third consecutive year Mary McCormick claimed top honors in the Gold Individual Female Championship. A longtime member of the Mt. Eden Vaulters, McCormick (Woodside, CA) is one of the most respected and decorated vaulters in the United States. In Lexington, Carolyn Bland once again served as her lungeur as she vaulted to a final score of 8.123 on Cheval.
"I felt pretty satisfied about my rounds at Nationals. I had a few mistakes but also had some personal bests," Said McCormick. "It was really fun to win with Cheval. It was also fun to win another Nationals with my lungeur, Carolyn Bland."
In the Silver competition, Grace Robinson of Pacific Coast Vaulters claimed topped honors on a score of 7.183. Robinson (Palo Alto, CA) was also lunged by Bland on Cheval.
Janie Salisbury (Atherton, CA) vaulted to national title honors in the Bronze Individual Female Championship. Salisbury, who vaults as part of the Woodside Vaulters, claimed the 2012 Championship aboard Kasper 128 lunged by Krista Mack.
Individual Male Championships
In the Gold Individual Male Championship Kristian Roberts returned to the venue where he represented the U.S. at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games to claim top honors. Roberts (Moss Beach, CA) scored an overall 7.646 on Highwater Bay. The Half Moon Bay Vaulters' member was another athlete successfully lunged by Bland.
Geoffrey Woolson, of Los Angeles Equestrian Vaulting Club, vaulted to national title honors after scoring an overall 6.716 in the Silver competition. Woolson (Tujunga, CA) was lunged on Dublin by Jake Fluekiger.
In the Bronze championship, Fluekiger and Dublin were again part of the winning effort as Jonathan Baird staked his claim on the crown, the Highland, UT native finished on a championship score of 6.321.
In the A Team Championships, the Mt. Eden Sun Team of Saratoga, California claimed the top spot utilizing Urfreund Rosengaard with a score of 7.600. The team lunged by Emma Seely was composed of Alexandra Thrasher (Menlo Park, CA) , Elizabeth Ioannou (Saratoga, CA), Tasha Thorner (Aptos, CA), Florence Rubinger (Santa Rosa, CA), Bodhi Hall (Santa Rosa, CA) and Michelle Guo (Palo Alto, CA).
The Vaulting Visions Team Genesis from Swedesboro, New Jersey claimed championship honors in the B Team Championship on Janyck, lunged by Alison Gieschen. The team of Kristina Koen (Sewell, NJ), Jessie Price (Claymont, DE), Katie Gieschen (Swedesboro, NJ), Jessica Weiland (Woolwhich Township, NJ), Miranda Marcantuno (Swedesboro, NJ) and Kate Appleby-Wineberg (Glassboro, NJ) finished on a score of 6.476.
The C Team title was claimed by the Woodside, CA based Woodside Vaulters with a score of 6.275. The team of Ellie Gifford (Woodside, CA), Sarah Dunn (Palo Alto, CA), Christine Herrmann (Burlingame, CA), Rachel Polati (Redwood City, CA), Holly Kuhn (San Mateo, CA) and Kristen Kuhn (San Mateo, CA) vaulted on Pepper Jack lunged by Kalyn Geisler.
Pas de Deux Championship
The final championship of the weekend belonged to Megan Benjamin (Saratoga, CA) and Blake Dahlgren (Santa Clarita, CA), who claimed top honors in Pas de Deux competition. The pair, who both represented the U.S. at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, scored a 7.611 on Sampson, who was lunged by Jodi Rinard.
"This year, the National Championships were a stepping stone on our way to the World Championships. It was great physical and mental conditioning to be under pressure to perform in the Alltech Arena," said Benjamin a former U.S. and World Champion. "Winning a National Championship is always an honor; it never gets old."
McCormick, Roberts and Pas de Duex winner's Benjamin and Dahlgren will head to Le Mans, France to compete for the U.S. at the FEI World Vaulting Championships, August 13-19, 2012.
For more information about USEF/AVA National Vaulting Championships visit; http://www.americanvaulting.org/Nationals2012/
Photos: Mary McCormick, winner of the Gold Individual Female Championships (Lynne Owens/VaultingPhotos.com); The A Team Championship winners, the Mt. Eden Sun Team (Lynne Owens/VaultingPhotos.com)