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Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State’s Horse Judging Team captures national championship

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Team photo at championship with trophies.
OSU 2020 AQHA World Champions: (From left) Leo Elsasser, Derek Strawn, Sydney Cannon, Sydnee Gerken, Rachel Martin, Holly Beringer, Lara Hays, Jenna Scali, Ariana Horton, Hannah Tweed, Megan Olson, Sydnie Opolka, Colton Carter, Coach Rachel Scott and Coach Steven Cooper. (Photo by Shane Rux)

The Oklahoma State University Horse Judging Team has crowned national champions for the fourth time in the past six years, taking the top spot at the 2020 American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City on Nov. 9.

The 2020 team’s dedication, positive attitude and commitment to each other was what allowed team members to put together another championship season, which was particularly challenging considering the COVID-19 pandemic, said coach Steven Cooper, an associate professor of equine studies in the OSU Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

“As much as I would like to take credit for this year’s success, the true thanks must go to coach Rachel Scott,” he said. “Rachel spent countless hours not only coaching these students, but more importantly mentoring team members to be successful within and outside the judging arena.”

Scott is an OSU animal science graduate student from Georgetown, Texas, who earned her bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State and was high individual on the OSU Horse Judging Team that earned the world championship in 2018.

OSU fielded two teams at the 2020 AQHA World Championship judging contest, which is considered the preeminent horse judging event. The OSU Pete’s team ranked second in halter, first in performance, second in reasons and first overall. The OSU Poke’s team was fourth in halter, third in performance, third in reasons and third overall.

OSU student competitors who ranked highly in specific categories included:

  • Jenna Scali of Adrian, Missouri, who was second in halter and performance, third in reasons and earned high-individual honors overall.
  • Hannah Tweed of Chouteau, Oklahoma, who finished first in performance, fourth in reasons and earned second-high-individual honors overall.
  • Holly Beringer of Cascade, Iowa, who was third in halter and finished as the contest’s fourth-high-individual overall.
  • Ariana Horton of Easton, Kansas, who ranked fourth in performance, second in reasons and was the competition’s seventh-high-individual overall.
  • Colton Carter of Owasso, Oklahoma, who ranked seventh in halter.
  • Sydnee Gerken of Cashion, Oklahoma, who was fourth in halter and seventh in reasons.
  • Lara Hays of Claremore, Oklahoma, who finished ninth in performance.
  • Derek Strawn of Columbia, Missouri, who finished 10th in halter and eighth in both performance and reasons.

Other OSU Horse Judging Team members included Sydney Cannon of Newcastle, Oklahoma; Leo Elsasser of Columbia, Missouri; Rachel Martin of McKinney, Texas; Megan Olson of Owasso, Oklahoma; and Sydnie Opolka of Hackett, Arkansas.

“I am extremely proud and thankful to have played a part in the growth and success of our 2020 team members,” Scott said. “This championship is the result of a great group of students doing what they love with unyielding determination.”

The OSU Department of Animal and Food Sciences is part of the university’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, which is comprised of the Ferguson College of Agriculture and two state agencies: OSU Extension and OSU Ag Research.

MEDIA CONTACT: Donald Stotts | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-4079 | donald.stotts@okstate.edu

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