Santa Fe, N.M.—July 27, 2019—The USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships for Zones 7 and 8 concluded with a podium finish for Texans Tobi Miller and Owen McWilliams in the competition's Individual Final. HIPICO Santa Fe in New Mexico played host to the three-day Championship, which featured 32 athletes riding over four rounds of competition.
Fourteen riders contested Hector J. Loyola's 15-effort Individual Final in HIPICO's Grand Prix Field, but only one finished clear. The sole rider in the 1.10/1.15m Children's/Adult Amateur to go fault-free all week, Tobi Miller of Spring, Texas, rode her own Take Notus to the gold medal finish.
"I thought 'Oh my gosh, I love this horse. I might cry. She is so good to me. I don't deserve this!' I was ecstatic," Miller said of the moment she finished the Championships clear, realizing she earned gold. "My mom cried; I almost teared up a little bit. It was amazing—the happiest I've ever been."
"I was nervous—this is the first championships that I've done. I hadn't even jumped on grass before this, and I was so worried because the competition is so tough," the Zone 7 rider continued. "The first few days I didn't even win a class, I only took second. But I didn't have a rail—the only reason I won was because I didn't pull a rail the whole time! I am so thankful for my horse."
"I think my rounds went really well. I was nervous in the beginning [of the Individual Final] because I was worried she was going to be tired and she wasn't going to spring as much, but she didn't let me down," Miller said of her mount. "She's such a good horse and she really helped me out."
Claiming the silver medal with 12 faults was Lucy Shapiro of Paradise Valley, Arizona, and her own Loristan M. Close behind in bronze was Samantha Reynoso of Cypress, Texas, who was a member of the gold medal team from Friday's competition, aboard Maxim Investments' Atomic with 14 faults.
The 1.20/1.30m Junior/Amateur competition saw Zone 7's Owen McWilliams crowned champion of the Individual Final after completing the Championships with four faults. The Austin, Texas, rider rode Cold Spring Farm Investments, LLC's Tour Eiffel Du Mesnil to the podium finish.
"I knew last night from checking the order that I had to put in a good round to get gold, so the pressure was on! It felt really good to jump clear," McWilliams said of his final round. "I definitely have had a lot of horse these four days because I didn't do as much warm up as I normally do, but he was really good and I think that helped, especially because there are four rounds and that's more than we usually do. He was fresh today, but felt really good.
Of the Zone Jumper Team Championship and it's unique format, McWilliams said, "I liked the team aspect and that I met riders from other areas and worked together. It was also nice to work toward an individual goal."
A nine-effort jump-off for the silver medal ensued between Individual Qualifier winner Laurel Walker and team silver medalist Kiley McCullough, both with 16 faults. Walker, of Dallas, Texas, blazed the course aboard her own Biaggi to claim the second spot on the podium by three seconds. San Tan Valley, Arizona's McCullough took bronze with her own Collin.
Individual medalists at the USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships will be recognized as 2019 Gold Star Emerging Jumper Riders by awarding them an exclusive 2019 Gold Star Emerging Jumper Rider pin that can be worn at future competitions to distinguish them. At the same time, trainers of these riders will be recognized as 2019 Gold Star Jumper Coaches and receive specialized pins that denote their title. Riders and trainers who receive the designation are also invited to attend one of the USHJA Gold Star Clinics.
All Championship competitors will be recognized as 2019 USHJA Emerging Jumper Riders. During a special orientation session during the riders meeting on Wednesday, riders, trainers and parents received comprehensive information about how riders can advance through the sport to its highest levels. The session specifically discussed the Show Jumping Athlete Pathway, a joint USHJA-US Equestrian effort that identifies and nurtures Jumping athletes as they advance through the sport to enhance future success for Olympic and international teams representing the United States.
Also taking place at HIPICO Santa Fe from Zones 7 and 8 are the USHJA Platinum Jumper Championships.
The USHJA extends special thanks to Queenie Productions and the entire HIPICO Santa Fe team for hosting the Championships.
USHJA extends its gratitude to all of our official sponsors, Charles Owen, CWD, Parlantiand Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, and our award sponsors Essex Classics and FITS Riding, that make these programs possible.
Children's/Adult Amateur Jumper Individual Final Results
Rider / Horse / Hometown / Zone
GOLD: Tobi Miller / Take Notus / Spring, Texas / Zone 7
SILVER: Lucy Shapiro / Loristan M / Paradise Valley, Ariz. / Zone 8
BRONZE: Samantha Reynoso / Atomic / Cypress, Texas / Zone 7
4: Hannah Beall / Cantuccini D / Corpus Christi, Texas / Zone 7
5: Lisa Piasecki / DAretina / Santa Fe, N.M. / Zone 8
6: Emma Scott / Vidam De Courcel / Conroe, Texas / Zone 7
7: Nathan Crutchfield / Amon / Tuscon, Ariz. / Zone 8
8: Betsy Checchia / Czhivago / Tuscon, Ariz. / Zone 8
Junior/Amateur Jumper Individual Final Results
Rider / Horse / Hometown / Zone
GOLD: Owen McWilliams / Tour Eiffel Du Mesnil / Austin, Texas / Zone 7
SILVER: Laurel Walker / Biaggi / Dallas, Texas / Zone 7
BRONZE: Kiley McCullough / Collin / San Tan Valley, Ariz. / Zone 8
4: Abigail Bergin / Cumlaude / Baton Rouge, La. / Zone 7
5: Sydney Stephenson / Oliver With a Twist / Youngsville, La. / Zone 7
6: Carly Sweeney / Anthem / Scottsdale, Ariz. / Zone 8
7: Samantha Cheung / Mr. Manhattan / Dallas, Texas / Zone 7
8: Ava Le / Cypre’s RC / Flower Mound, Texas / Zone 7