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Huskies make team history, entire team goes to state competition

With five seniors on this year's equestrian team, North Marion entered the 2017 season with big expectations on its shoulders.

But few could have predicted the amount of success the team has enjoyed in the past few months, not just from its veteran riders, but up and down the roster.SUBMITTED PHOTO - Alexis Knight and Michaela Chapin in the working pairs competition. Knight and Chapin were the lone members of the team to qualify in all three of the Huskies' state-bound team events May 11-14 in Redmond.

With a number of state championship qualifications riding on the final district meet of the season on April 13-16, the Huskies took home a second-place finish with their eight-person drill team, securing a bronze medal in the final regular season standings that will send the entire equestrian team to state next month.

In total, North Marion finished fifth at the 10-team equestrian meet, competing mostly against larger schools from the surrounding Willamette Valley.

The third meet of the regular season held at the state fairgrounds in Salem solidified the final standings for the North Valley district that North Marion is a part of.

The Huskies finished the regular season by qualifying for the state championship in nine events — six individual events and three team events.

Alexis Knight

Individual state events: Trail Equitation, Western Horsemanship, Driving

North Marion's most seasoned state competitor returns for her third trip to the state meet in Redmond by qualifying in three individual events and all three of the Huskies' team events.

Knight's second-place finish in trail equitation at the third meet was just enough to give her a two-point edge for first place in the final league standings, her lone individual gold medal in districts this year.

She added a silver medal in western horsemanship by virtue of a third-place finish at the third meet, where she also placed second in driving to qualify for state with a bronze medal.

Michaela Chapin

State events: Saddle Seat Equitation, Canadian Flag (team), Working Pairs (team), Drill (team)

Chapin qualified for state individually as the top rider in the North Valley in the saddle seat equitation competition, winning two of three league meets this year.

She joins Knight as the only North Marion riders to qualify for state in all three of the Huskies' state-qualifying team competitions.

Sydney Walker

Individual state events: Steer Daubing

Walker finished the regular season as the league's top competitor in steer daubing, winning the first two competitions and finishing with a second-place time in the final meet to earn a gold medal by a sizeable margin.

She too is part of the Huskies' four-team Canadian flag team and drill team that is going to state.

Victoria Ledesma

Individual state events: Pole Bending

Ledesma made up for a tough start to the season to qualify for state in pole bending with an incredible finish in the third district meet.

After taking a five-second penalty that bumped her from fourth to 21st in the first meet, Ledesma made a miraculous comeback in final two meets to qualify for state by a two-point margin.

Ledesma picked up 11 points in a sixth-place finish in the second meet and scored a season-best time of 23.656 to place second in the third meet.

The finish netted Ledesma 18 points in the event, giving her a season-total of 30 to edge past Dallas' Daphne Mauk for a bronze medal and the final qualifying position in districts.

Team Event: Working Pairs

Competitors: Alexis Knight and Michael Chapin

Knight and Chapin emphatically punched their tickets to state by finishing in first place at the third to leap over Canby and Newberg in the league standings to take home a gold medal.

Team Event: Canadian flags

Competitors: Alexis Knight, Michael Chapin, Sydney Walker and Mikayla Biggs

Although the four seniors never finished first in any one of the three meets, the quartet nonetheless will go to state together as gold medal winners by finishing tied atop the league standings at the end of the regular season.

The Huskies' Canadian flag team placed fourth, second and third, respectively, in the three meets to tie with Canby atop of the standings.

Team Event: Drill

Competitors: Alexis Knight, Sydney Walker, Victoria Ledesma, Michael Chapin, Mikayla Biggs, Zoey Harris, Peyton Knight and Rebecca Lettenmaier

The Huskies entered the third district meet in a tie with Newberg for the final state qualifying spot.

Although Newberg failed to field a team for the final district meet, guaranteeing North Marion's state berth, the Huskies went out and put up a second-place performance to put their stamp on team history and become the only team in the North Valley league to send its entire team to the state championships.

The 2017 OHSET State Championship competition will be held May 11-14 at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds Expo Center in Redmond.

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