Averett IDA Wins 2017 National Championship

Posted on May 1st, 2017 by Cassie Jones

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. — Averett University’s Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) team is the 2017 national champion after finishing first at the national competition hosted by Centenary University over the weekend.

“Obviously, we are thrilled,” Averett IDA coach Ginger Henderson said. “We’ve been represented at the national competition every year for the last 12 years. This is our first time winning the whole competition as a team. Last year we were reserve champions and a lot of the same riders were on that team, so a lot of them had come really close. They really worked hard to make sure we had a shot at winning the whole thing.”

Averett’s championship hopes came down to the last group with junior Megan Grimes, who rode in the Intro Division. Henderson said they purposely didn’t tell Grimes Averett was in the lead until after her go.

“She was one of the first riders in that division, so we had to just sit on pins and needles and watch all the other rides and hope no one would beat her,” Henderson said.

Grimes had an exceptional ride and took the second-place ribbon, clinching the win for Averett. From that test, she also won the Reserve High Point Rider for the day with a score of 74.375 percent.

Although Averett has had an individual national champion before, the program has never produced a team title until this past weekend.

“It’s always a group effort,” Henderson said. “Our team worked really hard, but they’re also representative of the entire department and a result of a lot of teamwork between the faculty and staff of the department.”

Averett edged Mount Holyoke College, which finished second. Emory & Henry College placed third along with host Centenary and Cazenovia College rounding out the top five.

Four members of the team competed for team points and two members competed individually for Averett during the two-day event.

On Sunday during the team competition, senior Hannah Walters got the action started for the Cougars, riding to a seventh-place finish in the First Level Division in her final collegiate event. Senior Kasey Toth rode next in the Upper Training Division aboard the horse Ambassador. Her final ride was memorable as she finished first in her class.

“My time at nationals was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Toth said. “The team was so supportive, and most of all, we made our coach proud.”

In Lower Training, junior co-captain Kristen Kelley claimed the fourth-place ribbon with a solid ride to help put the team in a place for Grimes to clinch the championship with her ride.

“I can honestly say that this was the perfect way to end my senior year at Averett in becoming national champions,” Toth said.

Every member of the team won a custom dressage saddle, a halter from Perri’s Leather and team jackets from Sew-You Custom Gifts.

“It’s all thanks to our hard work and dedication as riders, as well as our amazing coach,” Kelley said.

The weekend started with the individual competition. Senior captain Amanda Arnold rode in the First Level Division and, in her last collegiate performance, she finished with a 63.97 percent and a ninth-place ribbon. Next, Kelley rode as an individual in Lower Training and brought a score of 67.717 percent and an eighth-place ribbon.