The Sacred Heart Pioneers traveled to scenic Mystic, Ct. last weekend to compete at IHSA Regional Championships hosted by Connecticut College at the Mystic Valley Hunt Club and judged by Lesley Woodworth. Six members of the Pioneers qualified to compete in individual competition.
Senior Abbie Britton was the first to compete in the highly competitive Open classes, drawing "Star" for Fences and "Seas" for Flat. Senior Adrianna Dattoli competed next for the Pioneers in Intermediate Flat on "Seas". Competing against 15 other riders for the top two spots to advance to Zone Championships, Dattoli finished in sixth place. Novice Fences followed, with Dattoli, sophomore Allie Buccos, and freshman Cortney Sevigny competing. Both Dattoli and Sevigny drew the talented "Justin" and Buccos drew "Hugo". Buccos had ridden Hugo at the first competition of the season in October, where an unfortunate trip of Hugo's front hooves lead to both horse and rider falling to the ground. (Both horse and rider were uninjured.)
Showing mental toughness, Buccos put in a good round over fences and finished in fifth place. Sevigny took advantage of Justin's adjustability on course and was called back to test with the top-four. Riding "Small Star" for the call back, Sevigny was the first of four to execute the test designed by the judge and announced to the competitors just moments before they were to ride. Sevigny was awarded second place and earned a spot to compete at Zone Championships.
Novice Flat followed, with senior Nicole D'Agostino and Buccos representing the Pioneers. After D'Agostino's original draw "Brave" was pulled from the competition moments before her class started, she quickly mounted "Solei" and competed in her last IHSA competition as a Pioneer. Buccos drew " Sassy" for her heat of Novice Flat and was called back to test with seven other competitors. Buccos drew "UC Excaliber", a horse shipped in by UConn for the event. Judge Woodworth carefully selected her top riders thru a process of elimination and three riders were left at the rail. After a verbal question was asked individually to each of the top three riders by Woodworth, Buccos was awarded first place and earned a spot to compete at Zone Championships in Individual Novice Flat. Sophomore Arielle Pagano was the last to compete for Sacred Heart University in Walk/Trot/Canter. Pagano drew a chestnut gelding, "Francis" and finished in seventh place.
At the awards ceremony following the event, senior Brian Buchanan was awarded the Zone 2 Region 5 Sportsmanship Award. He was nominated by his team and also Region President Richard Luckhardt. Coach CJ Law of Mount Holyoke College chose a winner for the award from the nominations sent by each team.
Sacred Heart University was also awarded a trophy and ribbon to honor their accomplishment as Zone 2 Region 5 High Point College which earned the Pioneers the title of "Regional Champions".