Equestrian Club lead with 25 points in region


NIU Equestrian Club members are certain about one thing: if they do advance to the post-season, they don’t want a repeat of last year.

With a 25-point lead in their region, playoffs seem like a sure bet, though club president Michael Lenard isn’t starting the celebration quite yet. The post-season would pit NIU against Region One and Region Three champions with the top two advancing to the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Championships.

Though the Huskies have won their region the past two seasons, getting to the IHSA National Championships has eluded them. Last year’s exit was a tough pill to swallow for Lenard and the club, as they lost via a triple tiebreaker to St. Mary of the Woods.

“The first tiebreaker is who has more first-place ribbons; we had the same amount,” Lenard said. “The second tiebreaker is who has more second-place ribbons; we had the same amount.”

Then came the third tiebreaker. This examined which club had more points in the three fence-jumping divisions of the competition, which come before the two flat-only divisions. St. Mary’s had more, but NIU came back and tied them in points with their flat scores. Regardless, St. Mary’s advanced.

“I think the tiebreaker is controversial because it puts more weight on the first half of the competition,” Lenard said. “You can compare it to any sport. At halftime, NIU football trails whoever by seven points but then they come back and tie it in the second half. The other team doesn’t win because they scored their points first.”

After that controversial ending, the club decided to put more work in to make sure that scenario didn’t play out again. The club has entered two invite-only tournaments and has implemented team workouts, something members didn’t do last season.

NIU opened the season strong with a 15-point lead after the first show with an 80-point performance.

From Nov. 15 to Nov. 16, the Huskies pushed their lead to 25 points over rival Southern Illinois with a first and third place finish respectively. They currently lead SIU 201-176.

“A lot of people think that the horses do all the work, but it is very physically demanding,” said senior equestrienne Christy Yankaitis. “We’re doing it because we want to take the next step.”

Extra running and crunches have the Huskies hoping they don’t fall prey to the tiebreaker for the second year in a row.