Equestrian Team Kicks Off Second Season
July 23, 2008Mississippi College's equestrian team soon saddles up for its second season with the promise of more blue ribbons and additional national recognition on the journey.
"This season we will have a great group of young adults to work with and educate about the equestrian sport," said coach Mandi Callaway Powers from the team's headquarters, 9,000-acre Providence Hill Farm. "We are looking forward to a bright season with many accomplishments."
Her sense of optimism is ground in reality. On its squad of a dozen MC women, the equestrian team walked away with many blue ribbons during its initial season. Putting MC's team in the national limelight, one of its members, senior Meredith Guider of Utica finished fourth best in America. She shined in competition bringing the 18 top collegiate riders to Los Angeles.
Guider, 20, a former top-achieving rider at Virginia Intermont College, showed star qualities when she won the Zone 5 Finals to qualify for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association's Nationals in California on May 9. Only the two top riders from the nine zones qualified to participate in L.A.
"I feel that the trip to the Nationals was a great experience," Guider, an MC business student, said after returning to the Clinton campus. "I am very confident with my ride and the end results."
First-place winner in Los Angeles was Kristin Putnam of St. Lawrence University in New York, followed by Rachel Besch of Berry College in Georgia, while third -place went to Billie Taft of Skidmore College in New York. Guider beat out riders from her former college in Virginia and others from Ohio, California, Pennsylvania and Texas in the top ten.
As she embarks upon her senior year, Guider is expected to get even better and so is the entire MC team. The MC women are gearing up to compete against colleges and universities around the South during its second season. MC's first competition this fall will be Oct. 4-5 against Sewanee on the road at the Howell Riding Facility in Tennessee. MC's team travels to Maryville College in Friendsville, Tenn. for its second match on Oct. 25-26 at the Westwind Equine Training Center.
Jamie Martin, the owner of the Providence Hill Farm, attorney and award-winning rider has played a key role to get MC's equestrian program off the ground. She's excited about the varsity sport's year two. But Martin remains truly amazed about the team's national success during its first season.
"For me, the program greatly exceeded our expectations for the first year," Martin said one humid July day as Central Mississippi temperatures soared well into the 90s. "We look forward to growing the program."
Martin expects to welcome more MC students to the squad. She predicts the 2008-2009 season will also bring more blue ribbons and national winners to the Christian university in Clinton. Her Providence Hill Farm is an excellent training ground. It is home to a 36-stall heated barn, a Grand Prix jumping field, a water jump, lake, trail riding, lessons, excellent trainers and much more at its sprawling site in Madison and Hinds counties, about a 15-minute drive from the MC campus
Coach Powers is bullish about her team of Choctaws as the new season approaches. "This is a wonderful group of girls who have tried to excel and are very eager to learn about the sport."
Competing with a dozen women, the equestrian program is MC's 16th athletic team and the only one of its type in Mississippi.
There could be some changes coming. Powers, who used to coach the equestrian team at Rice University in Texas, said the MC team may add men to the team in future years.
Early in 2009, MC's equestrian be on the road Feb. 22 at Tennessee Tech University, and March 7-8 will compete at Murray State University in Kentucky. There's a return meet with Sewanee on March 14, and over to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro on March 15. The regular season closes April 23-26 with the Zone 5, Region 1 competition at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro.
Supporters of MC's newest sport get the opportunity to greet members of the team much closer to home in early October.
Horse lovers can meet Guider and other riders on the MC team during their visit to the Mississippi State Fair in Jackson set for Saturday Oct. 11, the fair's final weekend.
For more information on the MC team, contact Coach Mandi Powers at Providence Hill Farm at 601-925-0557 or visit the Web site providencehillfarm.com. You may also contact the athletic department at Mississippi College at 601-925-3341 or visit www.mc.edu
PHOTO: Senior team member Meredith Guider with coach Mandi Powers