Wilsonville's equestrian team brought home a pair of state championship trophies after its appearance at the state Oregon High School Equestrian at Redmond on May 9-12. Seniors Sydnie Jersey and Brooklyn James each nabbed a trophy for pole bending and trail respectively.
Jersey took the spot with a time of 22.007 seconds to score 20 points, edging St. Helens's Katie Holm by less than a tenth of a second. James, meanwhile, took first place in trail equitation with a total score of 141 to take first place. James defeated Mt. View's Jenelle Neumann by six points.
The season was one of hard work for the duo, according to Wilsonville equestrian coach Lori Jersey.
"I would say an overarching comment for both Sydnie and Brooklyn has been their tenacity, their motivation, and their absolute goal to finish on top this year," Jersey said. "When you ask the question about the turning point for both of these athletes, I think it was just a sheer desire and determination to finish their senior year on top. Thankfully, that's how everything played out in Redmond."
The two seniors, as well as the rest of the team, put in several months' worth of long practice, both as a team and working individually. With 12 people on the team, finding space to practice the team events such as drill and team penning has been difficult.
"I think the greatest challenge that I run into is being able to find large enough arenas to be able to hold team practices with the regularity that we require," Jersey said. "Our numbers have grown to a point where it does require that we have a larger arena so we can execute drill patterns. We have contracted with a cow contractor, so we have team penning practices. Finding those locations has been one of greatest obstacles, but we've continued to network and I think we're starting to build that repertoire of contacts and locations."
Despite the occasional difficulties in finding practice locations, the leadership from the two eventual state champions was critical in engaging the team and getting the Wildcats to be a cohesive unit.
"They were probably the most influential over all the season in terms of them mentoring the younger athletes and motivating and leading by example," coach Jersey said. "We had our team captains more involved and really focused on the core and success of our season. We had nine of 12 competing athletes make state. We had more athletes this year competing in the team events than we've experienced in the past which I would say equates to the greatest experience for the individual athletes, but also for the team."
Jersey and James will both be competing at the Pacific Northwest Invitational Championship (PNWIC) on June 14-16, also at Redmond. That will be against the best competitors from the northwest, and it's something that Jersey believes her team captains will be thoroughly prepared for.
"They're both already talking about and exchanging with their trainers how to improve upon what they've done in Redmond," coach Jersey said. "For Sydnie specifically, she's already looking at videos of how she could shave off a little bit of time. For Brooklyn, her trail pattern was impeccable in Redmond. Both athletes need to continue doing what they did in Redmond."
Now in its sixth year as a team, Jersey was very happy with the way the season played out. The financial contributions from corporate sponsors and Boosters were boons, but so was the unity of the team and its families.
"Some of the greatest attributes of this particular season have been incredible team work and team spirit," Jersey said. "We've had a synergy that really played out the entire season that brought great success at all levels, another element would be how committed the equestrian families have been. OHSET is something requires everybody's support with regards to the logistics. Trailing a 1,200 pound animal requires parent involvement, and also just support throughout the meets."