Oct 11, 2016 1:46 PM

Aiken Middle School Tournament Participants
Aiken Middle School Tournament Participants

Even with Hurricane Matthew threatening the Atlantic Coast, Aiken Polo Club in Aiken, South Carolina, hosted a wonderful weekend of Middle School Polo. A quick location change to a covered arena kept the weekend’s games rolling for all of the young players.

In Saturday’s first semifinal game, Camp Gravatt faced-off against The Willcox. Summer Kneece opened the scoring with four consecutive goals to give The Willcox a comfortable lead. Carson Freeland found the goal for Camp Gravatt and the chukker ended 4-1 in favor of The Willcox. Freeland and teammate Parker Daniels scored three combined goals to equalize the score, but Kneece’s goal kept the Willcox team up by one at half time. Camp Gravatt's Alea Crespo opened the scoring in the third to tie the game. Daniels had the hot stick in the chukker with four goals--Camp Gavatt with an impressive four goal lead heading into the final chukker. Stellar defense by The Willcox teammates Grace Ellis and Jacob Wallace held the Camp Gravatt team to a single score from Daniels. Despite a combined four goals from Kneece, two from the field and another two from the penalty line, The Willcox fell just short of Camp Gravatt’s total. With a final score of 10-9, Camp Gravatt moved on to Saturday’s championship game.

Championship team Environscape: Aiden Meeker, Josh Escapite, Gracie Brown
Aiken Middle School Tournament Champions: Environscape - Aiden Meeker, Josh Escapite, Gracie Brown

The second semifinal showcased the same firepower as the first game of the day with Environscape squaring off against Mead Hall. Environscape played an even first chukker, each player scoring, while Anna Hale contributed a single goal for Mead Hall. Hale found the goal again in the second chukker converting from the penalty line to pull within one, but Environscape’s Aiden Meeker and Gracie Brown each scored to maintain their team’s lead at the half. Meeker and Brown scored a combined three goals in the third, but Mead Hall’s Zachary Wallace closed the gap again with a goal from the field. Virginia Gwinn put another goal on the scoreboard for Mead Hall to pull her team closer at the beginning of the fourth. Brown and teammate Josh Escapite had other plans for the fourth chukker, scoring four between them and giving the Environscape team the win 12-4, securing their spot in the final against Camp Gravatt.

Sunday turned out to be a perfect day for polo and the consolation game got things rolling right away. The Willcox’s Kneece and Jacob Wallace opened the scoring, but a goal from the field by Mead Hall’s Zachary Wallace and an ace penalty shot from Hale tied the game at the end of the first. Hale and Zachary Wallace scored a combined four goals in the second chukker, while two goals from Jacob Wallace kept The Willcox within three. Hale and Kneece traded the only two goals in the third, thanks to outstanding defense from Mead Hall’s Gwinn and The Willcox’s Ellis. Kneece and Hale would trade goals again in the fourth, with the Mead Hall team squeaking by with the win, 9-7.

The Daniels family and their Best Playing Pony Carolina
Best Playing Pony Carolina played by Camp Gravatt's Parker Daniels pictured with his parents Julian and Dineen Daniels

In the Aiken Middle School Tournament Final between Environscape and Camp Gravatt, Daniels put Camp Gravatt on the scoreboard first. Brown scored two-consecutive goals and Environscape took the lead 2-1. The teams traded goals in the second chukker and Environscape maintained a two-goal lead at halftime.

Brown and Meeker scored in the third to widen Environscape's lead, but Daniels answered with a goal for Camp Gravatt. The third chukker ended with two goals from the penalty line for each team from Freeland and Escapite, Camp Gravatt trailing by three 9-6 going into the final chukker. Camp Gravatt's Freeland and Daniels scored two goals in the fourth, but three combined goals from Escapite and Brown gave Environscape the win 12-8.

All Stars Anna Hale, Gracie Brown, Parker Daniels, Summer Kneece
All Stars: Anna Hale, Gracie Brown, Parker Daniels, Summer Kneece

Anna Hale, Gracie Brown, Parker Daniels and Summer Kneece were named the tournament All Star team by their peers. Anna Hale also received the Sportsmanship Award. Parker Daniels’ mare Carolina was selected as Best Playing Pony by the tournament manager and umpires.

Thank you to Aiken Polo Club for hosting their first Middle School Tournament! Middle School action continues next weekend, October 15-16 at County Farms Polo Club in Medford, New York.