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MARYLAND’S TIGHT-KNIT TEAMWORK LEADS TO REPEAT OPEN NATIONAL INTERSCHOLASTIC CHAMPIONSHIP

Mar 26, 2018 3:30 PM

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2018 Open National Interscholastic Championship Winners: Maryland Polo Club - Aidan Tydings, Parker Pearce, Brennan Wells, Jack McLean, pictured with coach Kelly Wells.
2018 Open National Interscholastic Championship Winners: Maryland Polo Club - Aidan Tydings, Parker Pearce, Brennan Wells, Jack McLean, pictured with coach Kelly Wells.

Four regional winners descended upon Cornell University’s Oxley Equestrian Center in Ithaca, New York, March 23-25 for the sixty-third playing of the Open National Interscholastic Championship. Maryland Polo Club (Maryland), Southeastern Regional Interscholastic Tournament winner and 2017 defending National Open Interscholastic Champion, coached by Kelly Wells, carried on their season all the way to the national final. The team comprised of Brennan Wells, Parker Pearce, Jack McLean and Aidan Tydings defeated the Western Regional Interscholastic Tournament winner, Poway comprised of Skylar Dale, Ian Schnoebelen, Niki Mobtaker and Maddie Graydon in the first semifinal game.

Niki Mobtaker of Poway prepares for a backshot, Maryland Polo Club's Parker Pearce bumping hard in the semifinals.
Niki Mobtaker of Poway prepares for a backshot, Maryland Polo Club's Parker Pearce bumping hard in the semifinals.

The second semifinal pit Central Regional Interscholastic Tournament winner Houston Polo Club, Grayson Price, Joe Mack Stimmel, Anson Moore and Chino Payan versus the Northeastern Regional Interscholastic Tournament winner Gardnertown Polo Club (Gardnertown), Joe Post, John Dencker and Matteo Chaux, Gardnertown securing the second final position.

Gardnertown Polo Club's Matteo Chaux on the ball in the semifinals, Grayson Price of Houston Polo Club on defense.
Gardnertown Polo Club's Matteo Chaux on the ball in the semifinal, Grayson Price of Houston Polo Club on defense.

The consolation final between Houston and Poway on Saturday, March 24, was a fast, fun game ending with a final score of 18-9 in favor of Houston. Sunday’s final showcased a duel of quick sticks and smart riding. The first goal of the game wouldn’t come until the four minute mark when Maryland’s Wells sunk the first two pointer. Two additional goals by Wells and one by McLean would end the first 5-0 with an early, yet commanding lead by Maryland. Shut out in the first, Gardnertown gained momentum in the second with Post securing two goals for his team. Firing back even stronger, the fierce duo of Wells and McLean, added a combined seven goals including a two-point shot to their tally dominating Gardnertown 12-3 going into the half.

Parker Pearce of Maryland Polo Club on the ball with Gardnertown's Matteo Chaux and John Denker hustling to defend during the Open National Interscholastic Championship Final.
Parker Pearce of Maryland Polo Club on the ball with Gardnertown Polo Club's Matteo Chaux and John Denker hustling to defend during the Open National Interscholastic Championship Final.

The third chukker saw a determined Gardnertown team return to the field. John Dencker would contribute two goals for the green and white team, but Maryland relentlessly accumulated five points of their own. Headed into the fourth chukker Gardnertown continued to dig deep. All Gardnertown players contributed to the final tally, a two pointer by Chaux and goals from Post and Dencker would take the chukker with six goals to Maryland’s three. The effort was not enough to overcome Maryland’s unwavering lead however, which was spearheaded by Wells with 14 powerful goals. Earning their second national championship in a row, Maryland etched their name once again in the history books with a final score 20-11.

Sportsmanship recipient Maddie Graydon, alongside tournament all-stars (L to R) John Dencker, Jack McLean, Joe Post and Brennan Wells.
Sportsmanship recipient Maddie Graydon, alongside tournament all-stars (L to R) John Dencker, Jack McLean, Joe Post and Brennan Wells.
Runners-Up Gardnertown (L to R) Matteo Chaux, Joe Post, John Dencker.
Runners-Up Gardnertown (L to R) Matteo Chaux, Joe Post, John Dencker.

John Dencker (Gardnertown), Jack McLean (Maryland), Joe Post (Gardnertown) and Brennan Wells (Maryland) were selected as tournament All-Stars with sportsmanship presented to Poway’s Maddie Graydon. Best Playing String was presented to Maryland Polo Club and Best Playing Pony of the final was presented to June, another Maryland pony. The event would not have been such a great success without the support of Cornell University, Maryland Polo Club and Gardnertown Polo Club who provided horses and Bradley Biddle, Robert Lyn Kee Chow and Tom Wisehart of USPA Umpires, LLC, for excellent officiating.

Best Playing Pony: June, owned by Maryland Polo Club, pictured with Jack McLean and Kelly Wells.
Best Playing Pony: June, owned by Maryland Polo Club, pictured with Jack McLean and Kelly Wells.

All photos ©Mike Ryan.

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