Vikings' 'Hard work' and 'dedication' lead to first-ever state championship

COURTESY PHOTO - Forest Grove's Brittney Springer rides Wrangler while grabbing a flag in the Canadian Flag Relay at a competition last spring.
Sometimes hard work does pay off.

The Forest Grove equestrian team spent four days in Redmond last May, and over those four grueling days, it managed 14 top-10 finishes en route to the school's first-ever Oregon High School Equestrian Team state championship.

"This group of young ladies are some of the hardest working and dedicated I have ever met," said head coach Erin VanDyke.

Amongst the team's 14 top-10's was a top-five finish for Abigail Dillavou in western horsemanship; bronze medals in in-hand obstacle relay for Breanna Holmes, Abigail Dillavou, Marlee James and Jordan VanFleet; silver medals in working pairs for Breanna Holmes and Daisy Pratt; gold medals in working pairs for sisters Abigail and Anna Dillavou; a gold medal in driving for Jordan VanFleet; and gold medals in drill for Abigail Dillavou, Anna Dillavou, Marlee James, Grace James, Shelby Williams, Cassie Jones, Alex Jones, Kat Rieger, Kylie Bettis, Brittney Spring and Jessica Heinauer.

The equestrian team season is among the longest season in any competitive sport at the high school level, Coach VanDyke pointed out, running from the start of November to the middle of June.

VanDyke was proud of her girls' performance, but she's equally proud of the work ethic and sportsmanship they displayed in and out of the competitive arena.

"These girls practice and compete in all weather conditions, and often do so late into the evenings and nights," said VanDyke, "all while putting the needs of their equine partners first and maintaining excellent attitudes and sportsmanship. They support their teammates, but also the competition itself."

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