October 03, 2012 - By Liz Shepard
Rosie Sheppard clears a hurdle with grace on her horse. (click for larger version)
Special to the Leader
The Oxford High School Equestrian Team is making district championships a tradition.
The Wildcats easily rode away with the title for the 11th straight year after winning all three district meets handily.
The Wildcats ended the last of three district meets Sunday at the Oakland County Fairgrounds in Davisburg with a total of 864 points.
The next closest contender, Imlay City, came in with a total of 402 points.
Oxford received first place in 42 of the 51 events held during the district meets.
The teams compete in a variety of events with their horses, from showmanship and jumping to speed events.
While Imlay City will continue on to the Michigan Interscholastic
Horsemanship Association regional championship in Mason with Oxford, the season is over for Brandon and Lake Orion. Brandon earned a total of 287 points and Lake Orion received 281.
Oxford was led by junior Audrey Seely, who earned 160 points for the team. Senior Lauren Ubbing also was a strong leader, bringing in 136 points.
"I'm very proud of how well prepared the team was going into the district meets," said Coach Dee Shepard. "The riders have been practicing as a team all summer as well as through individual preparations. We will continue to prepare and condition for the coming event. We would very much like to make our 11th appearance at the state championship."
Shepard also credited those who have helped coach the team, many of them former Wildcats.
"The team really pulled it together in districts and worked together and supported each other," said Kaitlin Trezil, an assistant coach and 2009 OHS graduate. "I'm looking forward to seeing the team compete at regionals and hopefully go on to states."
The Wildcats will compete against teams from Chelsea, St. Johns, Tecuumseh, Dundee, Manchester, Huron-New Boston and Imlay City during the regional competition.
The top two teams in the region will earn a spot at the MIHA State Championship show, which will be held at the Midland County Fairgrounds Oct. 11 through 14.
Oxford was reserve state champions in 2011 behind Hartland High School Equestrian Team.
UPDATE: Oxford won the regionial championship in Mason, beating out seven other teams. They scored 479 points, a much larger total than second place Chelsea, which earned 409 points. Oxford will now move on to the state championship Oct. 11, where it will compete against last year's winner Hartland and Howell.