It was a little closer than last years’ state championship, but the Grand Haven equestrian team defeated Ludington once again.
This time it was on their opponent’s home turf, as the defending state champion Buccaneers pulled out a squeaker against the Orioles in Ludington on Saturday, 160-155.
It looked for a while as though last year’s runner-up would get its revenge in front of the home crowd. The Orioles led by as many as 30 points during the meet, and in the words of Grand Haven coach Joanne Kosanic had a “very strong and diverse team.”
But the Bucs’ equitation over fences riders closed the gap by six points, before their western riders closed it by another six.
The strength of Grand Haven’s speed horses overpowered Ludington, and Grand Haven won the meet by a narrow five points.
Rider Olivia Ortiz garnered 52 points in her seven classes, with wins in saddle seat equitation, saddle seat bareback, flag race and cloverleaf race.
Lily Atkinson tallied 45 points in her seven classes, including a win in speed and action.
Rya Greene scored 44 points in her seven classes, with wins in hunt seat bareback, hunt seat equitation and trail.
Kyah Schumake rode in just three classes, but added an impressive 19 more points to the Buccaneer total.
Ortiz is the only returnee from last year’s state championship team.
And after winning gold in her freshmen year, the sophomore did not rest on her laurels.
Ortiz rode her horse Tilly to a Youth Division 2 Championship at the National Barrel Horse Association Michigan State Finals over Labor Day weekend.
She clocked in at 14.99 seconds in the event — the fastest time out of more than 100 riders in her race. Along with prize money and a new saddle, Ortiz also earned an invitation to join the Michigan team at the NBHA World Championship in Georgia.
Earlier in August, Ortiz and Tilly finished as reserve champions in the speed horse showmanship division of the 4H State Championships.
In mid-October, Ortiz and Atkinson will compete at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress, the world’s largest single-breed horseshow.
This comes after the duo qualified to join the National Youth Activity Team tournament in May.
NYATT is the most popular youth event at the congress, and brings together more than 100 teams and 600 youth from state and regional quarter horse associations across the country.