The Black Hawk College Western team after winning the IHSA/NSBA Team National Championship. Photo by EQ Media
The Black Hawk College (Galva,Illinois) team won their Semi-Finals hosted at their facility and came into Nationals looking good. They battled it out with 10-time national championships Ohio State University but in the end, The Black Hawk team edged out the Ohio State powerhouse team by two points to earn the first-ever IHSA team championship by a community college.
“What I learned from Bob Cacchione is this is the first time that a two-year school has won the Western Team Championship,” said Becca Irish, coach of the NRHA/NSBA Team National Champions.
‘What allows these students to be so, so successful year after year is the amount of time that we spend in the saddle. we're very blessed because we are supported by the school. We're not just a club sport. We have an equestrian riding program that's a degree program. So, the team is a component of that or a co-curricular within our program. So, these students are in riding classes five days a week, riding a horse seven days a week. That's on top of an evening practice once or twice a week. I think that the saddle time and with those horses really gives them a chance to go on and be successful in the show pen.
“Coming off two years of not getting to do this, we missed it. It’s an amazing association. This team really stayed through the pandemic. I lost a lot of students and, and I don't, I don't blame them, you know, in the kind of online setting, it got a little smaller. These are the students that stuck it out.
“A couple of my sophomores, before Semi-Finals, wanted to get some gifts for the whole team. They got engraved bracelets for everybody with ‘against all odds,’ I thought today that was really cool because, this team went through a lot to get to this point. It was pretty fun to see it all come to fruition.
“Something that was really cool and kind of bittersweet, but I really took a lot of pride in, was watching some of our graduates come back and beat us for their four-year institutions. Like Kami Woodard who rides for West Texas A&M, she was my student in 2020. She rode Wayne, one of our horses to win that Open Championship title and Teah Taylor who rides for Saint Mary of the Woods was a student in 2020. To see her come back and win the Team Reining right off the bat. It's pretty cool and I am really proud of them.”
IHSA/NSBA Western Team Results
- Black Hawk College / 48 / Becca Irish
- Ohio State University / 46 / Ollie & Debbie Griffith
- West Texas A&M University / 42 / Amanda Ellis
- St. Andrews University / 38 / Carla Wennberg
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln / 34 / Lori Jaixen
- Midway College / 33 - tied / Conner Smith
6.University of Wisconsin- River Falls / 33- tied / Janie Huot
7. Albion College / 26 / Adam V. D’Agostino
8. Saint Mary of the Woods / 22 / Tabatha Taylor