New-Look UW Equestrian Team Has High Expectations for 2009-10 Season
Of all the new competitors for the University of Wyoming equestrian club this season, Kari Randle-Bright was especially eager to talk about one.
"I have a new hunt seat rider who is really promising," said Randle-Bright, the club's fourth-year coach. "She's a great, great rider."
Then, Randle-Bright laughed and added, "I just need to remember her name. It's Katie something."
With several encouraging rookies joining the likes of Katie French, McCabe Jones, Kristina Maddocks and Stephanie Schroeder, Randle-Bright believes UW is poised to build upon a tremendous 2008-09 season that culminated with a historic performance at the International Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Championships.
UW opens its 2009-10 campaign at a University of Colorado-hosted hunter seat show Oct. 3-4 at the Fall River Farm in Fort Lupton, Colo. The first western riding show of the season is the following weekend in Colby, Kan.
Before UW sets its sights on success in the arena, though, Randle-Bright and the club's returnees are attempting to master a game of memory match.
"I think it's great to see so many new faces; I just need to learn all their names," said Schroeder, an animal science junior from Douglas. "I can't believe how many new kids there are on this team, but I'm really excited to see all the new talent and make new acquaintances."
Added Megan Koltiska, a social work sophomore from Parker, Colo., "The more the merrier. It's awesome!"
The club, near extinction but a few years ago, has more than tripled in membership since Randle-Bright volunteered to assume coaching duties in 2006. Twenty-three of the 30 riders on this season's team are new -- including Katie Hurrell, whose hunter seat-riding skills caught Randle-Bright's attention in early-season practices.
It was Hurrell's name the coach couldn't recall as she was running through the list of rookies who could influence the club's success this season.
"I know I have a lot of names to learn, but I'm really excited that we have such a big team and a team that really seems driven. We not only have more riders to compete for us but we have more kids to help fund-raise and they all seem so enthusiastic," said Randle-Bright, who recently celebrated the birth of her first child, a girl whom she and her husband, Caleb, named Chloe Anne.
"I know I have a lot of talent on my team and I'm really, really excited to see them compete. I think we're just going to have a great season."
In addition to an influx of new talent, UW has a strong cast of returnees -- fronted by French (Plymouth, Minn.) and Jones (Dillon, Colo.), a pair of western riders who surged to prominence last season as freshmen. Both qualified for the IHSA national championship show, with Jones finishing fourth in intermediate western horsemanship and French placing seventh in beginner western horsemanship.
It was the first time in program history that two UW riders placed among the top 10 in their respective divisions at the IHSA's season-ending show, an event that brings together the top performers from among 300 member institutions and 6,500 riders in the United States and Canada.
Sophomore Kristina Maddocks (Hecla, S.D.), who qualified for the western semifinals last season, and Brittany Unrein (Littleton, Colo.), who competes in both hunter seat and western riding, also return this season.
"It was so exciting just to watch all the kids last year, to cheer for them and to see them have so much success," said Schroeder, who helped lead UW's resurgence in western riding last season. "I don't think there's any doubt that the success we had last season has brought more excitement to the team and fueled an interest in the team. We're all just determined to keep the team going strong."
Posted on Thursday, October 01, 2009