Nov 26, 2018 9:51 PM

USPA Teddy Roosevelt Champions Army Black (L to R) Daniel Fernandez, John Greening, Taimur Zeb, Carter Heltzen.
USPA Teddy Roosevelt Champions: Army Black - Daniel Fernandez, John Greening, Taimur Zeb, Carter Heltzen.

Article courtesy of Karl Hilberg

The sixth annual USPA Teddy Roosevelt was hosted by the Central Texas Polo Association November 17-18. Six teams from Oklahoma and Texas (Dallas, Houston and San Antonio) joined together to play polo. While not a bright sunny day, everyone was happy that it was not raining in Central Texas as it had done for most of the fall season.

The tournament was sponsored by the Texas Military Polo Club and the USPA Armed Forces Committee. For the second year in a row, there were six teams to represent the Army (two teams), Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Participating on the teams were two former navy personnel and at least 16 family members of current or former military members from Argentina, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Pakistan and the United States.

For the Championship match three local Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) program members were recognized. TAPS provides immediate and long-term emotional help, hope and healing to all grieving the death of a loved one in military service to America, no matter the cause of death. Since 1994, TAPS has served more than 80,000 surviving military family members and their caregivers across the nation. Bonnie Carroll, the president and founder of TAPS, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work with surviving military families. “We loved watching the Teddy Roosevelt military tournament,” commented Angela Cabrera. “I had never seen a live polo match before this weekend. I found it to be interesting and exciting. Thank you Karl, Central Texas Polo Association and TAPS for inviting us to participate! I look forward to attending future polo matches!”

Most Valuable Player John Greening.
Most Valuable Player John Greening.

Army (Black) (2)
Carter Heltzen (A)
Taimur Zeb (A)
John Greening (A)
Daniel Fernandez (2)

Army (Tan) (2)
Roxy Riggs-Mounter (B)
David Crea (1)
Tom Crea (1)
Jack Crea (1)

Marine Corps (0)
Chris Ballarad (B)
Leigh Fulkerson (B.5)
Taylor Morris (B.5)
Agustin Arrayago (2)

Navy (1)
Rob Cojocaru (B)
Thomas Phelps (A)
Wyatt Myr (2)
Karl Hilberg (A)

Air Force (1.5)
Tres De La Paz (B)
Gal Shweiki (A.5)
Javier Maldonado (1)
Ariel Rodriguez (1)

Coast Guard (1)
Kelly Coldiron (B)
Steve Gilchrist (A)
Nacho Estrada (1)
Greg Summers (1)

Both Army teams were the highest rated on the field and were seeded as the top two teams. Facing Army (Black) in the first round-robin matchup were the Marine Corps and Coast Guard teams. In the second facing Army (Tan) were Navy and Air Force.

Army (Black) took care of business defeating Coast Guard 4-.5 in the first game and earned the right to relax and watch the second game. Next, the Marine Corps faced Coast Guard and Marine Corps won 3.5-1. The final match was Army (Black) against Marine Corps and again Army took care of business holding the second team of the day to zero goals and scoring six more for the win.

In the subsequent round-robin, Army (Tan) faced Air Force and defeated them 3-1.5. Returning to the field, Air Force next faced the Navy team who were to defeat them 3.5-2. For the last game of the day it was Navy against Army (Tan), and in a very close match, the teams traded a goal each in both chukkers, as Navy pulled off the win 2.5-2, to face Army (Black) in Sunday’s championship match.

Best Playing Pony Carli, owned and ridden by Carter Heltzen.
Best Playing Pony Carli, owned and ridden by Carter Heltzen.

Looking ahead to the championship and consolation matches the weather forecast was not promising and the decision was made to move the final three games to Central Texas Polo Association’s ATX facility in Manor, Texas. In the first consolation match Army (Tan) and Marine Corps played in chukkers 1, 3, 5, and 7 and in the second consolation match Air Force and Coast Guard played in chukkers 2, 4, 6, and 8. In two closely-fought matches Marine Corps defeated Army (Tan) 4.5- 3 and Coast Guard defeated Air Force 2.5- 1. Both of these matches saw two of the most crowd inspiring shots of the weekend. In the first game, Agustin Arrayago riding parallel to the backline about 20 feet off and 30 feet past the nearest goal post hit a perfect backshot to score the Marine Corps first goal. For the Air Force it was Javeir Maldanado hitting from left of goal with a beautiful and long shot to split the uprights at about 30 feet.

Entering the Championship Match Army (Black) the favorite faced Navy. The first chukker had the teams shaking out and first on the board was Army when Greening converted a Penalty 3. The second chukker was all Army as they came out shooting with goals from Fernandez, Zeb and Heltzen to end the half 4-.5 in Army’s favor. The third chukker was a defensive slog with both teams converting Penalty 3s for a goal apiece. However, it was Navy in the fourth who came out steaming with Phelps scoring two goals and Wyatt a third. Navy was attacking again when the final horn sounded ending the match in favor of Army 5-4.5.

“It was so much fun and great to see everyone," shared Army’s Carter Heltzen after the tournament. “The tournaments are always competitive yet still friendly and very organized. It’s a nice change of pace to have timely communication and game play,” Heltzen continued.

Most Valuable Player was awarded to Army’s John Greening. The Best Playing Pony Award was presented to Carli, owned and ridden by Army’s Carter Heltzen. The Sportsmanship Award was presented to Navy’s Karl Hilberg.

The Central Texas Polo Association would like to thank supporters who ensured a great weekend of polo was enjoyed by all attendees: the USPA Armed Forces Committee, Texas Military Polo Club, Robin Sanchez, Karl Hilberg, Julie Hilberg, Jack Crea, Holly Wood, Javier Insua, John Greening, Ariel Rodriguez and Two Wishes Ranch.