For the second straight year, the Middle Georgia Equestrian Team, coached by Jennifer Mastronardi, is sending its middle-school riders to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association’s Zone 4 championships. This year the team also will send its high school riders.
The show will be March 22 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry.
Middle Georgia Equestrian, located at Pleasant Oaks Equestrian Center in Byron, has sent individual riders to the IEA Hunt Seat Finals for the past three years, with Alisa Siebenmorgan placing fifth in the nation in her division last year
Siebenmorgan will compete this year as part of the high school team in junior varsity notice.
“I feel a lot more comfortable with it,” said Siebenmorgan, a ninth-grader at Mount de Sales Academy in Macon.
Her experience at nationals last year has given her new insight into staying calm. She now helps some of the newer members of the team by reminding them to keep calm and to breathe.
Joining Siebenmorgan on the high-school team is Caleigh Cianci, a senior, who also qualified individually in varsity open. She won each of her four classes, both over fences and on the flat, at regionals to qualify for the Zone 4 championships.
Cianci said she used to be a lot more superstitious, but now she just wears her lucky hair nets under her helmet when she shows.
Mary Madison Randolph, a freshman at Stratford Academy in Macon, will show in the varsity intermediate division.
Randolph has been riding since she was a small child.
The 15-year-old’s biggest fear is letting down her teammates.
“I want to try my hardest,” Randolph said.
The fourth member of the team, Anna Lynn McNeal, won both of her classes at regionals in junior varsity beginner flat.
The ninth-grader at Covenant Academy said her most memorable moment came last year when she showed for the first time.
“My first show I got a first place,” McNeal said.
The middle school team, consisting of Taylor Beasley, Reagan Warren and Victoria DeFeo, will try to make it a clean sweep for Middle Georgia Equestrian.
For the first time, the zone finals will be held close to home for these riders.
“Being that it’s local, it’s a little more pressure. We’re going to have to represent our community,” said Beasley, who won all four of her future intermediate classes.
DeFeo, who attends the Academy for Classical Education in Macon, also won both of her back-to-back classes at regionals.
The seventh-grader wants to be an equine veterinarian as well as a horse trainer.
Warren, who shows in the future novice classes, said Mastronardi encouraged her to ride like she rides every day before she went in for her classes.
“I really hope I make it to nationals,” the seventh grade student from Westside Christian Academy said.
The team with the highest points for middle and high school will move on to the national finals, along with the top riders for the individual classes.
The finals will be held April 24-26 in West Palm Beach, Florida.