After an incredible performance at Regionals at Dartmouth last weekend, the Bowdoin equestrian team had its first rider in at least four years qualify for the next level of competition. Captain Carly Lappas ’17 took second place in intermediate jumping and qualified to advance to the larger and more competitive Zone 1 championships, which will be held at Mount Holyoke tomorrow.
Captain Clara Hunnewell ’17 also qualified for the regional competition and placed third, leaving her just shy of the requirements to advance to Zones.
On average, the equestrian team sends two or three riders to Regionals, where they compete against other schools like Colby-Sawyer and the University of Vermont.
After the regional level, Bowdoin participates in Zone 1, which comprises almost all of New England. If Lappas performs well at Zones, she has the potential to qualify for National Championships in Kentucky this May.
The team’s increased success this season has brought it more attention and support.
The team hopes that this newfound attention will help it overcome an important setback: its depth. Eight of the team’s 14 members are graduating this spring, making recruiting essential for the team’s future.
“I’ve gotten a few emails from students who are interested since acceptances came out a week or two weeks ago [and] hopefully there are some [rising] sophomores out there,” said Lappas. “We’ll never be huge, but hopefully we can keep recruiting people and people will be dedicated to working together as a team. And hopefully it will keep growing and attracting more people.”
Despite the individual competitive nature of the sport, the team is very tight-knit and supportive of each other. The riders understand that their individual performances are significant not just for themselves but their team as a whole.
“I think with our team, it’s as serious as you want to take it. So I think it’s good to see upperclassmen taking it more seriously and doing well and being leaders for the underclassmen,” said Lappas. “But there is also a team component, so depending on how every individual performs at every show, you get a team score. So in a regional team, if they’re at the top, their whole team moves on to the next level. I think that motivates our entire team to do well, so that our entire team can compete in the next level.”