Aelin Hill (C’19) competes with her horse, Elphaba. Photo courtesy of sewaneetigers.com.
By Richard Pryor III
If I had to take a guess the most ignored athletic team on campus, it would probably be the equestrian team. They’re not a large team like football, they’re not historically successful like tennis, and their shows at home are held at the Howell Equestrian Center, which is a 30 minute walk away from central campus at 1.5 miles, the farthest of any home “stadium.”
However, a member of the equestrian team has gotten closer to a national championship this season than anyone else has in any sport in the last two years, and that rider is Aelin Hill (C’19).
Hill, who hails from Mequon, WI, is the only member of the equestrian team to qualify for this year’s Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) National Championship. Hill made her way to the championship by winning the Zone 5 – Region 1 regional Open Individual Fences.
She then won the Fences portion of the Zone championships, competing against riders from eight other southern states. As such, she will be one of 24 riders competing at the National Championship Show on May 2-5 in Syracuse, NY at the New York State Fairgrounds.
This competition, the last of Hill’s collegiate career, brings her competition career full circle as the Fairgrounds in Syracuse were the site of her first major competition, which she did when she was 12. However, she will continue to compete through the United States Equestrian Federation after she graduates, with her sights firmly set upon reaching the Olympics during her career.
For Hill, this is the realization of hard work and perseverance over that career. “I came really really close in 2016, but I was just a point behind qualifying,” she commented. “I’m very excited and very thankful for the opportunity. I’m very thankful to the coaches and horses I’ve worked with.”