By: Violet Forbes on Oct. 13th, 2017

The team from Zone 7 ended a twenty-eight year losing streak to capture the gold medal in the Neue Schule/ USEF Prix des States Team Championship and Individual Championship Phase II at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, presented by The Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund. Zone 5 won the silver and the bronze went to Zone 1.

The last time Zone 7 was represented on top of the podium was in 1988, before any of the members were even born. This year's winning team consisted of Briley Koerner 17, of The Woodlands, Texas, riding For Jef VD Wezelse, owned by Bks Horse Farms, LLC;  Anna Beth Athey, 17, of Enid, Okla., aboard Cantero Da Lagoa; Carson Grisham, 15, of Southlake, Texas on Zeros, and Brian Moggre, 15, of Flower Mound, Texas, on Condero 3, owned by DDM Equestrian, LLC.  Martien Van Der Hoeven was the Chef d'Equipe. 

Following a modified Nations Cup format, the six teams and individual riders jumped the same course twice with one drop score permitted from each round. Five of the six teams as well as the individuals moved on to the second round. After Round, 1 four teams were in contention for the medals. Zone 2 was on top with a team total of eight faults. Zone 7 had a score of 12 faults and Zones 1 and 5 each had 16 faults.

Tension was palpable at the start of the second round as only eight faults separated the top four teams. That gap soon widened as the first two riders from Zone 2 knocked down several rails dropping the defending champions out of contention. Then Koerner, Zone 7's lead-off rider, went clear and Athey followed with only a single rail down catapulting the team into the lead. Athey was grateful for Koerner's flawless performance.

"I was a little nervous at the first round, but in the second round I knew Briley jumped double clear so I just needed to relax and get a good score for the team," said Athey. Briley always sets the tone and gets everyone confident and fired up to do well."

Koerner was one of only four riders to go double clear on Friday evening on the Steve Stephens-designed course. "It feels awesome! My horse just comes back each time wanting to produce a good round. You know he's going to jump for you. He just gives me a lot of confidence," said Koerner. "Going in we had a great team. Three of us were on the Young Riders team this year, so it was good to be back together on the same team again. It was a great feeling."

Grisham, going third in the rotation for Zone 7, clinched the gold for her team with her clear round. She was not even aware that her ride was so influential.

"It was such a great surprise," said Grisham. "I was really just trying to go in and have fun and try not to let my nerves get to me. To go in and have a clear round after having trouble yesterday in Phase 1 was just such a rewarding feeling."

Anchor rider Moggre did not even need to jump the second round since his team already secured the win with a score of 16 faults. "I have such amazing teammates, they are all my best friends," said Moggre. "They all have incredible horses and ride so well so I was really confident going into this year. We all put in great rounds and to be able to do so well and put our name on the banner after so many years is really cool."

The battle for the remaining medals was fierce with only four faults determining the eventual team placings. Zone 5 finished second for the silver on 24 faults with team members Dana Wille on Mach 5, Alexandra Pielet riding Helene VE, Annabella Sanchez on Cassano Z and Daisy Farish aboard Alberto II. Farish kept her fault-free streak going with a double clear performance for Zone 5.

The team from Zone 1 had 28 faults for third place and the bronze medal. Zone 1 team members were Yasmin Rizvi with Lumiere, Isabella Russekoff riding Calvero IV, Mckayla Langmeier on Durosa W and Coco Fath on Huckleberry. Fath and Huckleberry were also double clear.

The Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championship culminates on Saturday with the Individual Phase III competition. Scores from the first two phases are converted into points and are carried over with the top 60 percent of competitors from Phases I and II, who have not been eliminated, eligible to take part. The individual champion is the competitor with the lowest number of combined penalties after Phases I, II and III.