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Equestrian team goes for its 10th national championship

Kathy Cubert / The Lantern

In the 25 years since the Ohio State equestrian team formed, the team has won nine national championships. It is now hoping to clinch its 10th title at this year’s Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championship.

The road to the national championship is much like March Madness, coach Ollie Griffith said. The top teams from each region advance to semi-finals, then the top three teams at each semi-final competition advance to the national championship. Nine teams are then left to compete for the national title.

OSU won the semi-finals that were held March 27-28 at Cal Poly Pamona and will compete at nationals on May 6-9 in Lexington, Ky.

“Nationals is the highlight of the year for the team. Everyone looks forward to it,” alumnus Keith Ceddia said. “Not many students get the opportunity to represent their university at a collegiate national championship.”

Competition is separated into beginner, intermediate, novice, advanced, open reining and open horsemanship divisions.

“There is an opportunity for anyone that wants to learn to show horses,” Griffith said. “If you’ve never ridden a horse, you could come be a part of this team.”

All OSU students are encouraged to join the team despite their level of experience with horses.

Griffith said part of his task as coach is finding the students who have experience.

Some members find that being part of the equestrian team enhances their time as a student.

“It’s given me a community within the school that I can identify with,” team member Lauren Smanik said. “It just makes the experience that much better.”

The team has also helped members form lasting friendships.
“The friendships that you make don’t last only four years,” team president Danielle Nichter said. “The connections last for a lifetime – that’s a pretty cool thing to say.”

With nine national titles under its belt in only 25 years, the equestrian team is considered one of the most successful sports team at OSU. Ollie and Debbie Griffith own Autumn Rose Farm in Dublin, Ohio, and have coached the team since it formed.

“Ollie is a huge Ohio State fan and a great supporter of our team,” team member Melissa Vannest said. “I don’t think the team would have the same amount of enthusiasm if it weren’t for Ollie’s passion rubbing off on us.”

For more information on the equestrian team, visit osuwestern.com.

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