The OPSU Equestrian team finished their season in February ranking fourth in their region.—photos courtesy of Channing HawksThe OPSU Equestrian team finished their season in February ranking fourth in their region.—photos courtesy of Channing Hawks
**For Immediate Release** Equestrian Riders Wrap up Season Ranking Fourth in Region Submitted by OPSU Equestrian on 03/11/2014 Curtis, Neb.—Neither rain, nor snow, nor Nebraska winds could keep the ladies of the OPSU Equestrian team from traveling to Curtis, Nebraska to compete in the National College of Technical Agriculture Western Show on Feb 1-2.

Riding a brand new set of unknown horses the team got the opportunity to show what they were made of.

Starting off the first day of competition Madison Hughes placed second in the Open Division. The next group into the ring was the Novice Class in which Taunya Kliewer finished fourth.

OPSU saw three riders in the Intermediate-Two Class; Torrie Johnston placed first, securing her a spot in the Regional competition, and Tabitha Fowler and Kelsey Rea each placed fifth.

In the last class of the day the Beginner Riders entered the ring. When the results were announced Kate Ciarletta, making her show debut, placed first; Erica Newman placed second, and Jo Eike finished seventh.

The second day of showing found more success for the team. In the Open Class Hughes placed sixth. Showing for the first time in the Novice Division, Johnston placed first while Kliewer came in sixth.

A tough draw in the Intermediate Class put Rea in seventh, while her teammate Fowler came away in first and secured her place in Regionals.

Difficult draws also plagued the Beginner Riders as Newman and Ciarletta each finished fifth while Eike placed seventh.

The team only had one week to prepare for their final show as well as for the Regional competition in which three riders qualified: Taunya Kliewer, Torrie Johnston, and Tabitha Fowler.

With little time to rest the team was back on the road to Lincoln, Nebraska for the final show of the season, Feb 14-16.

First to show was Madison Hughes who took third in both Reining and Rail Classes. In the Novice division Taunya Kliewer placed second, Torrie Johnston placed sixth, and Tabitha Fowler came away in seventh.

The lone Intermediate-Two rider, Kelsey Rea placed fifth. To round out the day Kate Ciarletta placed second while Erica Newman placed seventh in the Beginners Class.

In the final regular show of the season the team proved they could show with anyone. Hughes placed fourth in Reining and sixth in Rail. With the triple threat of Novice riders Johnston took third, Kliewer fourth and Fowler sixth. Rea placed second in her Intermediate Class.

In a tough Beginner Class Ciarletta placed second and Newman took seventh.

Each of the young ladies had a great season and Coach Channing Hawks said she was very proud withat how far they had come and is looking forward to building on the success of this year.

Sunday was the Regional competition hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A banquet was held Saturday night for those riders that had qualified by earning enough points throughout the year.

OPSU had three representatives all in the Intermediate division: Torrie Johnston, Tabitha Fowler, and Taunya Kliewer all had great rides.

After individual heats it was announced that Kliewer would be back to compete in the finals. A rough draw kept her from moving on to the Semi-Finals in Findley, Ohio, but that did not take away from her accomplished season. At the end of the day overall team standings were announced and OPSU ended fourth in their Region.

Several of the team members will now switch gears and compete on the Ranch Horse Team. The first clinic will take place on Saturday, April 5 in Hugoton, Kan., and the first competition is set for May 8-11, also in Hugoton.

Good job and best of luck to the OPSU Equestrian and Ranch Horse Teams.