TIVERTON, R.I. – University of Massachusetts Dartmouth sophomore Olivia van der Meer (Medway, Mass.) claimed the top spot in the open fences class on Saturday to qualify for the Zone 1 Championships as she and fellow equestrian team captains Jillian Ruyffelaert (Northampton, Mass.) and Nicole Ineson (Maynard, Mass.) competed at the IHSA Zone 1 Region 1 Equitation Finals at Claddagh Farm.
How it Happened
Van der Meer's smooth jumping performance in the event's first class put her atop the field of three riders and secured her first trip to Zones, as the top-two placers in each class will advance represent Region 1 on April 8. 2017 marks the fourth-straight year under head coach Mary Charette that UMass Dartmouth will send at least one rider to Zones. Later in the afternoon, van der Meer narrowly missed qualifying in her second class, taking third of five in the open flat.
Ruyffelaert and Ineson both competed on the flat to cap the afternoon for the Corsairs. In her first show since returning from an injury over the winter, Ruyffelaert placed sixth of eight riders in novice flat to cap her IHSA career. Ineson gathered third place in the final class, walk trot, to just miss moving on to Zones in her final IHSA event.
UMass Dartmouth caps its most successful season as a unit under Charette, as the Corsairs were recognized after the event as the third-place scoring team out of Region 1's 11 teams for the entirety of the 2016-17 season.
Van der Meer, Region 1's Reserve High Point Rider for the season, will represent UMass Dartmouth at the IHSA Zone 1 Finals on April 8 at Mount Holyoke College. The top-two finishers in each class at Zones will advance to the IHSA National Finals May 4-7 in Lexington, Ky.