>Kaity Sparks, Sarah Madison and Amy Pearce will be going on to the state championship meet in May
REDMOND - The third and final meet is in the books, and three members from the Crook County Equestrian Team qualified in four events for next month's state championship meet.
   Amy Pearce, Kaity Sparks and Sarah Madison will compete in the Oregon High School Equestrian Teams State Championships at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond on May 17-21.
   Madison will compete in the in-hand trail, while Pearce will participate in barrel racing and pole bending. Pearce and partner Sparks will compete in bi-rangle.
   This will be the second trip for Sparks, who qualified in 2005, the inaugural year for the Crook County Equestrian Team, and Coach Nancy Wiggins-Condron said that Sparks qualified for state using a different horse than she's used to.
   "Her horse has been injured, so she's been riding a different horse," Condron said. "But she'll have her horse back for state, so that should improve her time."
   Sparks will team up with Pearce in bi-rangle for state, an event the two finished in third place in Redmond last weekend. The third place finish by Sparks and Pearce last weekend placed the duo second overall in the season standings, an overall standing that punched their ticket to state.
   Condron said in order to qualify for state, competitors need to finish in the top 10 percent of their events, while placing in the top three at two of the three meets automatically guarantees one a spot at state.
   This was especially helpful for Madison, who, entering this past weekend's final meet, had placed in the top three only once.
   She would need to qualify in the top three in the in-hand trail last weekend in order to make it to state, and, in the end, she took third.
   "She needed to place in the top three to qualify," Condron said. "She's got a young horse she's using, but every time they go out, they just make more improvements."
   As for Pearce, who will compete in multiple events, Condron said "she's very competitive, and she'll do just fine."
   Pearce finished third overall in barrels, second overall in pole bending, and second overall in bi-rangle with Sparks.
   This past weekend, Pearce took third in barrels and third in the bi-rangle.
   "She's starting to run real consistent times on that horse," Condron said. "so the practice is paying off."
   Overall, Crook County finished in fourth place in the medium team division, with La Pine finishing first, Bend second, The Dalles third, Lakeview fifth and Madras sixth.
   "I'm certainly not disappointed with our fourth place finish, mainly because the kids are improving each time they ride," the coach said. "Their scores are getting higher and their times are getting lower."
   As for state, Sparks, Madison and Pearce have until Thursday, May 17 to prepare for their events.
   "I certainly think we'll be competitive in all the events," Condron said. "The kids are improving, and they are just going to continue to get better."
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