There was never a question who would end up with the high school championship at the 2018 IEA National Finals. A win, reserve and fifth place put Zone 2’s Lucky C Stables firmly in the lead after a day of team fence classes.
And after the second day, the New Paltz, New York stable racked up a resounding 38 points to easily top the high school teams. Zone 10’s Chestnut Hills Equestrian Center out of Bonsall, California was the reserve team with 17 points.
Lucky C’s big win stemmed from countless hours of practice, said Charlotte Suback, the team’s JV beginner flat rider.
“We’ve been working so hard all year and it comes down to that five minutes,” Suback said. “And just to have it go well is so amazing.”
But for Tomiko McGovern, it came down to those five minutes four different times. Maybe a little bit longer, if you count the two phases of the open varsity challenge.
McGovern started her show weekend in the individual open flat class on Friday, which she won. She continued with the team varsity open over fences on Saturday, where she came in second.
At that point, Chestnut Hill Farm’s high school team had also ribboned in every class. Their middle school rider, Skylar Wireman, won her individual middle school class on Friday and was sticking around to cheer on the high school team for the rest of the weekend.
“We’re looking to get a ribbon in every class and to have fun,” Wireman said.
Chestnut Hill ended up placing in every class but one, and multiple top-three placings solidified their spot in second place.
Later that day, McGovern competed in the varsity open championship, where the top open riders from each zone faced off over a course of 2’6” fences. The jumping round was immediately followed by a flat class filled with a lot of walking. Each of the 12 riders walked until their number was called, then cantered for 20 strides before breaking back down to the walk.
The most competitive class of the weekend turned into McGovern’s second win. Along with her championship ribbon and a bunch of other prizes, she’ll also get to go to an Emerging Athletes Program event.
That third day started out just as strong for Lucky C. Suback secured a win in JV beginner novice flat and Madison Brooks got fourth in JV Novice Flat.
Lucky C’s Chloe Love and Chestnut Hills’ Sophia Sundem had a tough faceoff in their varsity intermediate class. The eight rides in the class were picked out and sent out of the ring, and Love and Sundem dropped their stirrups. They performed lead changes and posted around the ring until Sundem picked up — and didn’t switch — her wrong diagonal. That ended the class, and Love covered her face in her hands as she realized she won.
With those wins in the bag, McGovern didn’t even have to worry as she went into the last class of the day, open varsity team flat. But she finished with a win anyway, giving Lucky C a dominating win over the rest of the crowd.
One win at a national final is unthinkable for many riders, but Love managed to do it twice and McGovern three times. And for McGovern, a high school senior, there couldn’t have been a better way to finish out her IEA career.
“It feels awesome, it’s really good because we worked so hard to get here,” McGovern said. “We couldn’t have done it without our teammates supporting us.”