The SUNY Cobleskill Western Equestrian team won the College’s first-ever regional championship by racking up a total of 234 points over the course of eight Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) competitions capped with two shows on February 19.

The score makes SUNY Cobleskill the Champion High Point team for IHSA Zone 2 Region 3.

The team went into the weekend competitions leading Morrisville State College by just two points. “With a loss in the morning we were tied overall during our lunch break,” said Leah DiGioia, Western Equestrian Coach and Instructor of Animal and Plant Science at SUNY Cobleskill. “Our final show was quite a nail-biter.”

Wins by sophomore Ashlynne Ratner, junior Karly Brandimarte, junior Erin Hopmans and senior Samantha Baker helped carry the team to victory in the afternoon.

“With guidance from Coach Leah DiGioia and the full support of the SUNY Cobleskill Athletic Department, students in the Stock Seat Equestrian Team have taken western riding to a new level,” said Timothy Moore, Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources at SUNY Cobleskill. “Their achievements are a testament to the dedication of the faculty and staff who continue to offer numerous opportunities for students to become highly-qualified professionals in the equestrian field.”

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As Champion High Point team, SUNY Cobleskill will send selected team members to the Western Semi-Finals on March 25 and 26 in Syracuse to compete head-to-head against the other High Point teams in Zone 2, including Cazenovia College, the University of Findlay, and Ohio State University. The winners of that competition will then vie for the American Quarter Horse Association Trophy in a national competition.

SUNY Cobleskill junior Morgan O’Sullivan achieved the distinction of High Point Rider for Region 3, qualifying her for the National Individual Championship in Lexington, Kentucky. She is the first junior and the second-ever SUNY Cobleskill student to achieve this rank. The AQHA High Point Western Rider champion receives a saddle and a scholarship.