September 18, 2013 - The Oxford High School Equestrian Team may have easily earned its 13th straight district championship, but the road to being back-to-back state champions is just beginning.
OHS Equestrian Team captains Ian Diedrich and Kiley Reis compete in the two-man relay Saturday. They earned first place. Photo by Liz Shepard. (click for larger version)
The Wildcats secured the Michigan Interscholastic Horsemanship Association District II Division A Championship at the Armada Fairgrounds Saturday.
After three days of competition – the first two meets held in Armada Sept. 7 and 8 – the OHS Equestrian Team earned 989 points. Lapeer East's team came in second in the A division with 479 points and Romeo came in third with 309 points.
High school equestrian teams compete based on team size, with A division teams the largest with 10 or more riders competing.
OHS team captains Kylie Reis and Ian Diedrich, both juniors, were the top point earners in the three meets.
Kylie, 16, brought in 136 points. Ian, 15, earned 131 points.
The district title earns the wildcats a trip to the MIHA Region E Championship Sept. 27 – 28 in Mason.
The Wildcats will face seven other teams at the regional championship, including Lapeer East which earned a trip to the next level by being reserve champs of District II.
The OHS Equestrian Team brought home the MIHA Division A State Championship in 2012 and is vying to bring the trophy back to Oxford for a second year in a row.
With six of her riders having graduated in 2012, Coach Dee Shepard is pleased with the success of her young team.
"I'm impressed with the work ethic and the determination of the new riders," Shepard said. "We have six new riders; the leadership of the five returning riders has brought them together as a team."
The equestrian teams compete in several different disciplines, including huntseat, jumping, saddleseat, western, trail, fitting and showing and speed classes.
Ian, who is a first time captain, said he started the season with a little trepidation because of the number of new rides.
But their domination at the district level has set him at ease.
"I was a very proud captain, me and my co-captain, Kylie Reis, we talked, and we're really proud of how far everyone has come," Ian said. "We're all very much one team."
While the district championship may have come easy, he said they don't plan on slowing down on preparation for the next level.
"Practice as hard as we've been practicing, and that's about all we can do, put in everything we can to get back to states and into winning states," he said.
Ian said the parent and coaching support has helped the team reach its continued success. Shepard also credits the Wildcats' assistant coaching staff made up of mostly former team members, for the continued success.
Jacqueline Girardot (class of 2005); Kelli Roth (class of 2008); Kaitlin Trezil (class of 2009); and Jennifer Fifield (class of 2012) have all returned this season to coach.
"I come out to help the team because I love watching them succeed and meet their goals," Roth said. "Watching them practice hard all summer and finally be able to show off their talents and do well is so rewarding for me."