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Posted: 10/10/12

Above, The Romeo Equestrian B Team for 2012 is made up of, front three from left, Rachael Ahern, Cassidy Opatich and Miranda Losey. Back from left, Caitlyn Pichette, Coach Heather Throop, Monica Ogne, Adrienne Roeder, Claire Hermann, Raechel Ogne, McKenna Witt, Destinee Doutry and Claire Vestrand. Not pictured is Asst. Coach Kristen Siess. Below top, Romeo Equestrian Miranda Losey concentrates while performing the intricate jumping pattern with her horse Rapid Tempo. Below bottom, Romeo Equestrian Claire Vestrand performs her jumping pattern riding Joey.

(Photo courtesy of McKenna Witt)

Romeo equestrian team ends season
as Class B District champions

Observer Special Writer
      The Romeo Equestrian Team rode out this year as Class B District champions and qualified for Regionals, which took place last weekend at Mason's Ingham County Fairgrounds.
       "We did awesome," said Coach Heather Throop, who couldn't be more proud despite a slight dip in the standings during the competition. "We were in fifth place at the end of Saturday, but by Sunday, we ended up in seventh.
       "We didn't have any speed horses this year," she added good-humoredly.
       Throop said that each year is a surprise for her. She's coached the Romeo Equestrian Team for 18 years and it has always a Class A team, except for two times, because of the number of riders participating.
       "I had really strong jumpers this year," said Throop. "I filled the classes in both jumping and saddle seat, I never had that. I usually have western and speed riders."
       After a busy weekend, you would think these nine riders would be ready for a lot of rest and relaxation but that's not so for the Romeo Equestrians.
       "Now that the girls had a taste of what Regionals are like, they are really fired up to get to Regionals next year."
       Throop explains why the Regional competition is so important to the Romeo Equestrian Team.
       "We made it to Regionals six years ago and lost moving on to the State finals by a small margin. It was heartbreaking back then. It's been six long years and I hope we will not have that long of a stretch again."
       Throop is losing two seniors this year: Co-Captains Caitlyn Pichette and Claire Vestrand.
       "Caitlyn has been with the team since seventh grade. She started on the JV team and rode my horse," said Throop. "She's come a long way. She's showed a very good and positive attitude and was always supportive, cheerful and bubbly. She was a great co-captain."
       Throop noted that Pichette's younger sister plans to join the team next year.
       Vestrand started as a non-rider freshman. She won her horse at the Armada Fair by writing an essay.
       "She is just so sweet and has an incredible disposition. She's very willing to try any class and has been a wonderful co-captain," said Throop.
       It is heartening to Throop that the rest of her team will be returning next year.
       Claire Hermann and Raechel Ogne are 11th-graders. Cassidy Opatich, Miranda Losey and Rachael Ahern are 10th-graders; and Monica Ogne and Adrienne Roeder are ninth-graders.
       There is one more member, McKenna Witt, a non-rider this year.
       "She supported her team incredibly," said Throop, explaining that Witt was especially helpful this year when Throop had to care for her sons, ages 3 and 5. "McKenna got up and rode with me to Mason each morning and helped wherever she was needed. She took pictures and helped the riders change. McKenna will be a riding member next year."
       For the 2013 year, Throop knows of three riders joining.
       "Our team is growing and we have some new talent coming on," she said.
       For the Romeo Equestrian Team, it's all a learning curve and the more you accomplish, the more you'll excel, but it's not all about winning a ribbon.
       "It is always our goal to continue on to the next level and make it to the Regionals and on to the State finals," said Throop. "But just to watch the girls become more confident in their skills is thrilling. I was incredibly proud at Districts when I came into the barn and it was warm, welcoming and friendly. They kept everything spotless. They showed respect and helped their other team members. My assistant coaches Kristen Siess and Destinee Doutry were tremendous helps to me and I had a great group of parents this year who made sure my assistant coaches and I ate."
       As for who is high point winner for Districts and Regionals this year, Throop said, "I don't give that information out until November when I do the award ceremony and banquet at the Romeo Masonic Temple. No one will know until then."
       Throop does say, though.
       "We did awesome and everyone did very well."

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