BHC equestrians riding wave of success

30 Western Equestrian Team members in arenaThe Black Hawk College Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) Western Equestrian Team is riding a wave of success this year.

The team recently won the Regional Championship for the 18th consecutive competition season and will advance to the Semifinals in the team competition. Also, eight BHC riders will compete individually in the Semifinals.

“I am so proud of this talented group of horse people,” said Bekah Irish, coach and assistant professor of equestrian science.

“They work hard every day. A lot has happened in the last two years, and I am grateful for the chance to get to know each member of this team,” she said.

Here’s a recap of Spring 2022 so far:

Black Hawk College hosted 12 schools from five states and facilitated more than 330 rides Feb. 26-27 at the East Campus. Over the two days, the team organized and competed in three regular-season shows and the first post-season event, the Regional Championship.

Thirteen BHC riders qualified for Regionals. Normally it takes riders two seasons to earn enough points to be eligible, but because there was not a competition season in 2020-21, BHC sophomores had just one season to qualify. Black Hawk College is the only two-year school in its region.

The 13 individual Regional qualifiers were:

  • Grace Barman – Alpha, IL – Level I Horsemanship
  • Kelsey Doty – Port Byron, IL – Rookie Horsemanship
  • Kayla Jiras – North Liberty, IA – Beginner Horsemanship
  • Brooke Kiefer – West Bend, WI – Rookie Horsemanship
  • Sarah Korthals – Geneseo, IL – Rookie Horsemanship
  • Samantha Lind – Maple Park, IL – Level II Horsemanship
  • Hope Lock – Granville, IL – Beginner Horsemanship
  • Makenna Pidgeon – New London, IA – Rookie Horsemanship
  • Josie Spratt – Purcell, OK – Reining and Open Horsemanship
  • Anna Wilhelm – Shannon, IL – Reining and Open Horsemanship
  • Aleah Wykert – Deer Creek, IL – Beginner Horsemanship
  • Taylor Yordy – Leaf River, IL – Level I Horsemanship
  • Lily Zomparelli – Schererville, IN – Reining and Open Horsemanship

Only the top two riders in each of the seven divisions advance to the Semifinals. The individual Semifinals qualifiers are:

  • Kelsey Doty – Rookie Horsemanship – 2nd
  • Kayla Jiras – Beginner Horsemanship – 1st
  • Sarah Korthals – Rookie Horsemanship – 1st
  • Samantha Lind – Level II Horsemanship – 1st
  • Josie Spratt – Reining – 2nd
  • Anna Wilhelm – Open Horsemanship – 2nd
  • Aleah Wykert – Beginner Horsemanship – 2nd
  • Lily Zomparelli – Open Horsemanship – 1st

The Semifinals team will consist of:

  • Haley Bucher – Washington, IL – Rookie Horsemanship
  • Autumn Cary – Syracuse, NE – Ranch Riding and Level II Horsemanship
  • Lauryn Kuehl – Fulton, IL – Level I Horsemanship
  • Hannah Lemay – Tuscola, IL – Beginner Horsemanship
  • Josie Spratt – Reining
  • Anna Wilhelm – Open Horsemanship

From March 18-20, Black Hawk College will host one of three IHSA Western Semifinal Championships. The other two will be at West Virginia University and Texas Tech University. It will be the third time BHC has hosted this large event.

“We are excited to welcome teams and riders from across the country, from New York to California,” Irish said.

For more information about the Western Semifinal Championships at Black Hawk College, contact Bekah Irish at


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