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Nov 28, 2017 4:49 PM


2017 Teddy Roosevelt winners: Army (Tan). L-R Glen Voorhees, Loreto Natividad, Liz Cunningham, Kyle Brown.
2017 Teddy Roosevelt Winners: Army (Tan) - (L to R) Glen Voorhees, Loreto Natividad, Liz Cunningham, Kyle Brown.

Story by Karl Hilberg

The Texas Military Polo Club’s, Fifth Annual USPA-sanctioned Teddy Roosevelt Tournament was hosted by the Central Texas Polo Association at its Heart of Texas Polo Club location in Lockhart, Texas, November 17-18.

Army (Black) (2)
Kelly Coldiron B
Greg Summers 1
Karsten Idsal 1
Ethan Galis 1

Army (Tan) (1)
Liz Cunningham B
Kyle Brown B
Loreto Natividad 2
Glen Voorhees 1

Marine Corps (3)
Steve Gilchrist A
Chris Jones 1
Wyatt Myr 2
Andrew Richardson A

Navy (1.5)
Reuben Brooks B
Karl Hilberg A
Cody Woodfin 2
Steve Armour A.5

Air Force (1)
Lara Semmelmann B
Fabian Vela A
Javier Maldonado 1
Ariel Rodriguez 1

Coast Guard 1.5
Leigh Fulkerson B.5
Taimur Zeb A
Daniel Fernandez 2
John Greening A

Air Force's Javier Maldonado.
Air Force's Javier Maldonado.

This year saw the field of teams expand from four to six, with teams representing the Army (two teams), Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Players from Oklahoma, McAllen, Texas, Wellington, Florida, Dallas, Texas, Midland, Texas, and Houston, Texas, joined local players. Representing the military, the tournament had a Marine Corps sergeant, a father of U.S. Military Academy freshman, as well as retired naval officers joining a number of military family members on all the teams.

The first day of tournament play took place on a cloudy and windy day. Six teams competed over two days, including two round-robin matches which determined the Sunday championship match finalists.

Air Force's Ariel Rodriguez being hooked by Navy's Cody Woodfin.
Air Force's Ariel Rodriguez being hooked by Navy's Cody Woodfin.

On day one, the first round-robin pitted Marine Corps against the Coast Guard. Straight out of the gate, Marine Corps’ Steve Gilchrist quickly scored a goal from the field, followed by Wyatt Myr converting a Penalty 3 to end the first chukker with the Marines leading 2-0. The next chukker was dominated by Marine Corps’ Sgt. Chris Jones, USMCR scoring three goals from the field with Daniel Fernandez scoring one for the Coast Guard ending the match with the Marines leading 5-1.     

The next match of the round-robin had Army (Black) facing the Coast Guard. In a defensive first chukker neither team was able to score. Starting the second and final chukker, Army’s Kelly Coldiron and Greg Summers each scored a goal from the field, while Coast Guard’s Fernandez converted a Penalty 3 ending the match in favor of Army (Black) 2-1.

The Marine Corps returned to the field for the final two chukkers and similar to the previous two, it was a low scoring defensive match with Marine Corps’ Jones scoring the only goal of the chukker. Starting the final chukker, Jones again scored increasing the lead, but Army’s (Black) Captain Karsten Idsal, USA (HD) scored the third and final goal of the match. Marines defeated Army (Black) 2-1, securing their position in the Sunday championship match.

Steve Armour, USPA Governor-at-Large presenting MVP award to Loreto Natividad. MVP award donated by American Polo Outfitters.
Steve Armour, USPA Governor-at-Large presenting MVP award to Loreto Natividad. MVP award donated by American Polo Outfitters.

In the next round-robin match Navy faced off against Air Force. Leading the charge for the Navy was Cody Woodfin who scored a goal from the field followed by a Penalty 3 conversion for a second goal. The second chukker turned out to be a defensive battle as both teams held to zero goals, ending the match 2-0 in favor of Navy. Air Force and Army (Tan) met next. In a closely fought game, each team scored one goal apiece; Air Force’s Ariel Rodriguez converted a Penalty 3 and Army’s Loreto Natividad scored one from the field. Natividad played hard in the second, scoring back-to-back goals which were matched by two goals from Air Force’s Rodriguez and Javier Maldonado. Natividad however, was able to score a final goal to end the game 4-3 in favor of Army (Tan).

In the final match of the day, Navy met Army (Tan). Army’s Natividad began the scoring with two from the field. Navy answered with goals from both Woodfin and Steve Armour to end the chukker tied at 2-2. The final chukker was closely fought as Natividad scored one allowing Army to edge past Navy with a narrow 3-2 victory.

 BPP, Missile, owned and played by Loreto Natividad; L-R Loreto Natividad, Sgt Reckless, USMC BPP saddle pad presented by Karl Hilberg, Co-Chair USPA Armed Forces Committee. (Pad donated by American Polo Outfitters)
Best Playing Pony: Missile, owned and played by Loreto Natividad. (L to R) Loreto Natividad, Sgt. Reckless, USMC. BPP saddlepad donated by American Polo Outfitters and presented by Karl Hilberg, USPA Armed Forces Committee Co-Chair.

The first consolation match saw Navy face off against Army (Black). Army’s Summers was the first to score from the field but was quickly matched when Navy’s Woodfin converted a Penalty 3. In the next chukker only Navy’s Armour scored ending the half in favor of Navy 2-1. The teams traded goals in the third. Summers closed out the chukker by scoring two consecutive goals for Army, leaving Navy with only a half-goal handicap advantage as the fourth and final chukker started. Navy’s Commander Karl Hilberg, USN (Retired) was the first to score in the fourth, followed by Armour converting his second penalty of the day, while Woodfin scored his third of the match. Army was not about to give up. Summers scored his fourth goal of day, but it was not enough. Navy rode away with the win 7-5.

The second consolation match had Air Force facing Coast Guard. Subbing in for John Greening was his daughter Grayson Greening. It was Air Force’s Maldonado who opened up the scoring with a goal from the field and a penalty conversion. This was matched in the second when Dr. Taimur Zeb scored for the Air Force ending the half, Air Force leading by one. The teams traded goals in the third; Fabian Vela scored first for the Air Force, followed by Fernandez scoring for the Coast Guard. Air Force continued to lead by one at the start of the fourth, but it was Coast Guard’s Grayson Greening who broke away for a long run to goal to tie up the match. Rodriguez was able to score the final goal of the chukker to give the win to Air Force.

Sportsmanship Award winner Wyatt Myr, presented by John Greening, President Central Texas Polo Association.
Sportsmanship Award Winner: Wyatt Myr, presented by John Greening, President Central Texas Polo Association.

Sunday’s Championship match featured Marine Corps against Army (Tan). As one would expect from a championship match, it turned out to be the best game of the tournament and the highest scoring. The first chukker was exciting as both teams came out on the attack. The advantage went to Army (Tan) however, as Natividad sunk two Penalty 2 conversions, and a Penalty 3, along with a score from the field. In a more evenly matched second chukker, each team converted a penalty and Army led at the half 5-1. The Marine Corps' Jones started the scoring in the third with a breakaway and long shot to goal. Again it was Natividad who retaliated for Army with two more goals, his second a beautiful neckshot from the right corner of the field over four players to goal with ten seconds left on the clock. The final chukker was even contest with Myr and Natividad each scoring three goals. Myr’s fourth chukker efforts were not able to overcome Army’s lead and Army (Tan) won the match 10-5.

Most Valuable Player was awarded to Loreto Natividad. Best Playing Pony honors were presented to Missile, owned and played by Loreto Natividad. The Sportsmanship award was presented to Wyatt Myr.

The Central Texas Polo Association would like to thank tournament sponsors American Polo Outfitters, the USPA Armed Forces Committee, Javier Insua, and Julie and Karl Hilberg. Additional thanks to umpires Doug Brunet, Cody Woodfin, and Wyatt Myr,  as well as the support team of Ariel Rodriguez, Javier Insua, Holly Wood, and the University of Texas Polo Club.

All photos © Martha Bagley




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