Equestrian team shines

By James Cantagallo

In its only home meet of the year, the equestrian team proved staying home has its advantages.

The Huskies, who are in a rebuilding year, were reserve champions Saturday and tied for champions Sunday with Southern Illinois University.

“Overall I was surprised, in a good way, how well we did,” said assistant coach Erin Sutherland. “Hosting a show is so much work and very mentally and physically exhausting on the riders, especially with the cold rainy weather we had on Saturday. But our riders stepped up to the challenge and we were second and first for the weekend. I’m so proud of everyone.”

Members of the team had strong days over the weekend as a result of practice.

“You always ride better when you are at home,” said head coach Joleen DeWitt. “We have just been practicing. This is our third weekend of horse showing, and I have also taken some of the girls to another horse show in between, so they are getting a lot of practice. It is November now, so you have to be riding well.”

Sutherland said nursing major Jess Lucas showed well for NIU.

“One of the riders that stood out to me would be one of the club presidents, Jess Lucas,” Sutherland said. “On Sunday she was overall high point rider for the show, which means out of around 40 riders she accumulated the most points that day.”

DeWitt felt everyone had a good weekend.

“All of my girls that jumped did really well,” DeWitt said. “I am going to be sad, this is the last show for my twins, Anna and Angela Casali. They graduate, and they did really well; they always do really well. The whole team did well.”

Now that the Huskies have a few shows under their belts they are starting to get in the zone.

“I feel like now we are in our groove,” DeWitt said. “Now we are getting there. We’re back on track.”

Heading into the weekend, NIU sat behind SIU and Truman State University in the standings. At the end of the weekend the Huskies had closed their gap on the region leaders.

“…We are still in third, but the point gap has closed between Carbondale, Truman and us,” DeWitt said. “Now we are only five points behind; before we were 22 behind. The three of us are right there.”

The equestrian team will return to action in the spring when it heads to Missouri State University. Over the winter, the Huskies will look to improve before their next show.

“We are going to practice all winter,” DeWitt said. “I hope come spring, when we go to Missouri State, we can catch up and win.”