Lexington, KY- The 2015 USHJA Children's and Adult Amateur Jumper Regional Championships wrapped up with the West Region crowning the Team and Individual winners September 9-13, at the Blenheim Fall Tournament in San Juan Capistrano, CA.
After three days of friendly competition, riders from Zone 10 claimed both Team and Individual gold medals in the Children's and Adult Amateur sections, while Zone 9 riders earned the silver Team medal and the Individual bronze in the Adult Amateur section.
In the Children's section, three teams from Zone 10 went head-to-head, with Zone 10 Team 1 (Tazmyn Geere, Haley Wright, Savannah Roberts and Emma Pacyna), led by Chef d'Equipe Hillary Ridland, earning the gold on a score of 10 faults.
"There is strategy involved in working with four different horses and four different personalities in the riders," said Ridland. "It's great for them to ride under this much pressure, it's not just them they're letting down; they have a team to support. I think it is a great thing for us to continue in the future."
Just two faults behind to earn the silver Team medal was the Children's Zone 10 Team 3 (Alyce Bittar, Makala Lutz, Romina Fimbres and Molly Volkland) led by Chef d'Equipe Everardo Hegewisch. Rounding out the Children's podium was Zone 10 Team 2 (Alex Trubey, Joelle Hylton, Daniella Sternberg and Kira Stevenson), led by Chef d'Equipe Michelle Pacyna, earning the bronze.
Earning two gold medals this weekend was Children's Team and Individual gold medalist Tazmyn Geere. Originally from South Africa, Geere, 14, now rides and trains in Henderson, NV. Geere had a near faultless weekend, earning her only faults on the final day of competition.
"This is my second year doing [the Children's Jumper West Regional Championship], and last year we weren't really prepared because I had only had him for about two months," Geere said of her 12-year old Dutch Warmblood Winchester. "But this year I was prepared for [the Championship]."
As the Children's Individual gold medalist, Geere also won a coveted spot at a 2016 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program Regional Training Session of her choice.
Fourteen year-old Alyce Bittar of Los Angeles, CA, was in hot pursuit of the podium and rode away with the silver medal earning just 8 faults over the four rounds of competition aboard Cara B. Just two faults separated silver from bronze as well with Molly Volkland, 16, of Aliso Viejo, CA, claiming the bronze on VIP. Bittar and Volkland were the only riders to put in clear rounds on the final day of the Children's Individual competition.
The Adult Amateurs also saw tough, but friendly competition with one team from Zone 9, one team from Zone 10 and one combined Zone 9/10 team vying for the Adult Amateur Team championship. Led by Chef d'Equipe Mike Endicott, the Zone 10 team (Stacey Siebel, Allison Tussey, Kristen Buckingham and Mitra Arani) prevailed to win the gold medal.
"Today it was not about winning the classic," said Endicott following the team competition. "It was about coming together as a team, and for a program like this to exist is terrific! Having a format that mirrors what it's like for our top athletes keeps it exciting!"
Team Zone 9 (Leslie Cox, Samantha Cristy, Katherine Williams and Nancy Butano), led by Chef d'Equipe Catherine Gregory captured the silver medal just three faults behind gold, and the combined Zone 9/10 Team (Nori Burby, Barbara Blasko, Laura Doering and Patty Vasey), led by Chefs Hap Hansen and Catherine Gregory claimed the bronze.
Allison Tussey of Santa Rosa, CA, and member of the Zone 10 Adult Amateur gold medal team, was the only rider to complete two clear rounds during the Team competition. Tussey would go on to win the Individual gold medal picking up just 11.5 faults on the final day of competition.
"The overall experience competing in these Regional Championships was exceptional, especially yesterday when I competed as part of the Gold Medal Zone 10 team," said Tussey. "The pressure was intense but we persevered."
Close behind Tussey was Nori Burby of Las Vegas, NV, earning the Adult Amateur Individual silver medal. Just 1.5 faults behind silver was Zone 9 rider Samantha Cristy of Redmond, WA, earning bronze with 14.5 faults.
In addition to their medals, the winning teams and individuals in both the Adult Amateur and Children's will receive Pro Performance open-front boots provided USHJA Contributing Sponsor Professional's Choice. Also, the individual Children's gold medalist receives a spot in a 2016 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program Regional Training Session of their choice.
Family members also attended to cheer on their loved ones, and several ended up making new friends. Tussey and Cristy's mothers were in attendance to cheer on their daughters. Both women remarked how much fun they had as parents during the Championships-especially meeting new people and becoming "like family" by the time the weekend came to a close.
"When we arrived we knew no one-we were all strangers," said Allison Tussey. "Now we are all one big family exchanging emails and contact info. We were all rooting for each other!"
For more information on the Championships, including specifications, qualifying procedures and 2015 locations visit, www.ushja.org/ChAAJumper.