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By Caitlin Moyles
Special to the Almanac
Members of the Woodside Vaulters equestrian vaulting club earned blue ribbons in multiple team and individual events at the Spring Fest vaulting competition, held June 4 and 5 at the Portola Valley Training Center in Menlo Park.
The Trot Team and the A and B Teams each placed first overall out of nine clubs that were represented by an estimated 100 vaulters who competed at the event.
Equestrian vaulting is the sport of gymnastics and dance on the back of a moving horse. The athletes are judged on technique, form, performance, level of difficulty, and harmony with the horse, while the horses are scored based on stride, balance, consistency and other factors.
Members of the first-place Trot Team are: Bridget Kiernan, age 9, from San Mateo; Annika Malmstrom, 10, Palo Alto; Alec Rodriguez-Stangle, 9, Woodside; Samantha Welch, 8, Portola Valley; Miki Yang, 6, Los Altos Hills; and Claire Schott and Ingrid Standifer, both age 7 and from Menlo Park.
Trot Team members also distinguished themselves in individual events -- Kiernan placed third and Malmstrom placed fourth overall in the women's trot events, while Rodriguez-Stangle placed second overall in the men's trot competition. At the preliminary trot level, Yang placed fourth overall, with teammates Schott, Standifer and Welch taking third-, fourth- and fifth-place ribbons.
Representing the first-place B Team, which competed at the canter level, were Sarah Dunn, 14, of Palo Alto; Yvonne Greenen, 16, Los Altos; Katrina Nibbi, 17, Woodside; Julia Plungy, 17, San Jose; and sisters Janie and Katherine Salisbury, ages 12 and 9, of Atherton.
The A Team qualified to represent the USA at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany for the second year in a row. The team is composed of Gabe Aniello, 20 and Tessa Divita, 13, both from Redwood City; Alyssa Bonora, 16, and Kathryn Jaggers, 17, of Portola Valley; Siddartha Kreaden, 12, Sunnyvale; Katharine Wick, 18, Hillsborough; and Samantha Smith, 25, San Jose.
The team will train in northern Germany for several weeks before competing at Aachen in July, according to the Woodside Vaulters.
Woodside Vaulters also excelled in the individual competition at the canter. In the women's copper division, Rachel Polati, 14, from Woodside, placed first overall, and Katherine Salisbury placed second. Dunn placed fifth overall in the women's bronze division, while teammates Divita and Bonora took second and fifth place at the women's silver level.
Patrick Stevens, 19, from Martinez, was the overall champion for the men's gold division. In the women's gold division, Wick placed second and Kalyn Geisler, 22, Redwood City, came in fourth. Wick qualified to compete as an individual at the World Equestrian Festival, and is the only member of Team USA who will compete in both individual and team vaulting events at the summer event in Aachen. Visit woodsidevaulters.org for more information about Woodside Vaulters.