Lynchburg, Va. -- Lynchburg College athletic director Jon Waters is proud to announce that the Lynchburg equestrian program will add the National Collegiate Equestrian Association format to its competitive riding program beginning in the 2018-19 academic year.
The Hornets will continue to offer their championship-level Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association team in addition to the NCEA-style competition.
"At Lynchburg, we believe in providing high-impact opportunities to each of our students, and in the world of collegiate riding, the NCEA format provides a chance for our student-athletes to challenge themselves against many of the best riders in the country," Waters said. "We have a lot to offer student-riders who are looking for a dynamic athletic experience coupled with high-quality academic offerings."
Lynchburg, which will become NCEA championship eligible no later than the start of the 2019 season, becomes the second NCAA Division III institution to add NCEA this year, following neighboring Sweet Briar College, which announced its addition in the fall. Lynchburg competed in an exhibition in February, defeating Delaware State on total points after splitting the head-to-head rides.
The Lynchburg equestrian program has a strong history and has developed nicely over the past few years after partnering with Sweet Briar at the Harriett Howell Rogers Riding Center. The historic facility and Lynchburg's commitment to enhancing the student-athlete experience have proven to be a successful formula, as Lynchburg students continue to excel in the IHSA, local and regional shows, and have even finished well in the American National Riding Commission Championships during both the 2016 and 2017 academic years.
"Our riding program is always striving to give our students opportunities to grow as riders," said Justine Betzler, Lynchburg riding instructor and coach. "The addition of the NCEA format will continue to challenge riders to reach higher levels of collegiate riding. This year's scrimmage against Delaware State was a great chance for us to experience the NCEA format, and the riders' hard work and dedication in preparing for the scrimmage showed in the results."
"The IHSA and NCEA actually complement each other very well, as we continue to try to meet each of our students where they are and help them reach their riding goals," said Mimi Wroten, executive director of the Harriet Howell Rogers Riding Center, where Lynchburg's program is based.
One student who continues to thrive in the program is senior Christina Antonucci (Lake Hopatcong, N.J.). A multiple-time IHSA Cacchione Cup winner for Zone 4, Region 2, Antonucci has excelled in each of the collegiate riding formats.
"I absolutely adore the athletic department as a whole and love being a part of such a tight-knit community," Antonucci said. "Being involved in our strength and conditioning program has improved my riding tremendously and has given me the knowledge to remain fit after college. In addition, the school has been giving the program a ton of recognition, which is unbelievable to see."
While Lynchburg will not offer riding scholarships, the merit-based academic packages are highly competitive and the wide-ranging academic programs such as the nationally acclaimed Westover Honors College and Doctor of Medical Sciences, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Masters in Business Administration, and nursing programs along with new initiatives growing out of VISION2020, the school's strategic plan provide a wide-reaching, dynamic university offering all wrapped up in private school that has been internationally recognized as one of the "Colleges that Change Lives."
NCEA and IHSA rules will permit student-riders to compete in both formats for the 2018-19 year while Lynchburg is in its exhibition and scrimmage season. In the future, riders will compete on either the NCEA roster or the IHSA roster.
Lynchburg is in the process of finalizing the 2018-19 schedule, which will include four to six exhibition scrimmages against top-level NCEA programs and a full IHSA schedule in one of the toughest IHSA regions in the country.
For more information on Lynchburg's equestrian offerings, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.