Wilsonville competed against the best the Oregon high school equestrian world has to offer in the OHSET state championships at Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center May 11-14.
Hailey Giddings finished fifth in reining and qualified for state in steer daubing and team penning; Brooklyn James placed 10th in hunt seat equitation and qualified for state in hand trail; Lexee Padrick qualified for state in showmanship, working rancher, daubing and team penning.
Padrick, Giddings and Kendall Shanklin competed together in team penning.
Wilsonville equestrian coach Lori Jersey says the success of athletes such as Giddings and Padrick is, in part, due to time spent outside of high school equestrian.
"Hailey has been very accomplished at that event (reining) for quite some time. She competes in associations outside of OHSET. It's been a passion and a point of focus for her. Lexee has been very successful as well in other associations and that contributes to how well they do at the high school level," Jersey said.
Partnered with a new horse this season, James worked hard to hone her technique.
"Brooklyne had a phenomenal season overall and exponential growth from last year to this year," Jersey said. "She's worked incredibly hard. Her work ethic definitely transferred to how well she did in the show arena."
The team penning team had a midseason shakeup and Shanklin stepped in to fill the void.
"We appreciate when athletes have team interest in mind and step in. She not only had never done that event, she rode a horse she doesn't own and competed successfully," Jersey said. "Along with that, team penning did very well. It did not pan out the way we had hoped at state but did very well at the district level."
Jersey is proud of how Wildcat athletes performed in individual events and will focus more on developing team event chemistry next season.
"Individually our athletes did really strong. We need to strive to improve upon team events next year. I think that's why we won the trophy last year because we were so strong within the team category. We need to focus on how to involve more athletes in team events," Jersey said.
Still, Jersey says the girls were adept in performing contrasting events, from performance, to gaming, to working rancher.
"This year many athletes were doing events that were new to them last year," Jersey said. "OHSET allows an athlete to try different things and find different passions within the equestrian sport."
Jersey says interest in the equestrian team has spiked recently — possibly due to the ascension of the 4-H program in Wilsonville.
"I'm already having more conversations and opportunities looking into next year than we've had in the last four years," Jersey said.