By Liz Shepard
They did it again.
The Oxford High School Equestrian Team is state-bound for the 18th straight year.
The 12-rider team will be heading to Midland early Thursday for the first of four days of competition in the Michigan Interscholastic Horsemanship Association State Championship.
And the team is returning hungry.
In 2016, the Wildcats captured the Division B state championship. Teams compete based on number of riders. The team is now competing in the A Division, the largest of the teams.
After a taking home the state title, the team saw its numbers grow with several new riders joining for the new season.
“We have great coaches who pushed us all throughout the season to do better than we thought we could,” said senior and co-captain Kain Main. “We also worked really hard and we work really well as a team…Our goals are to ride the best we can in every class and win back-to-back state championships.”
The Wildcats have been dominating on the road to the state championship, nearly doubling the points of their closest competitors at both the district and regional level. Oxford earned the District 2, Division A Championship with 1,066 points after three days of showing, over reserve champion Clarkston, with 646 points.
The Wildcats earned the Region E Championship with 636 points, against eight other teams. The reserve champion was Mason, with 335 points.
The coaches credit the riders’ commitment and dedication to practices, that start in the spring and often span five days a week.
“Like every year, we have highly motivated and competitive riders that make the coaches very proud,” said Dee Shepard, Oxford’s head coach.
“We plan on putting every effort toward the state championship and hopefully bring home another trophy.”
Keep updated on the team’s progress and watch live feed from the championship at http://www.miha.org/state-championship.
Oxford will be competing against teams from Caledonia, Chippewa Hills, Coopersville, Lakeland, Mason, Meridian, Perry, Reed City and Shepherd.
Riders compete in everything from showmanship and jumping to barrel racing.