By Jeremy McDonald
ALBANY, Ore.– As the third meet of the season, the District Meet, wrapped up Sunday afternoon at the Linn County Fairgrounds, their was plenty of tears to go around for some of the seniors who were still around when it ended.
In the walkway in between the Calapooia Arena where they were just competing at and the stalls where their horses were at, stood about three or four girls tearing up knowing that this was the last time all of them will be competing with and against one another with the State Meet next month in Redmond awaiting the riders who qualified.
For Sprague Senior Autumn Geiling, she was choked up with emotion as she hugged the girls on her way back into the stalls. For her, she’s been doing events like Equestrian since she was 10-years-old and though she’ll be competing again here in a few weeks at State, the raw emotion of Sunday afternoon of about 3pm or so in this covered walkway was that of sadness that this was the last time they’ll come to this point in their High School careers.
“It’s really bitter sweet,” said Geiling who went to State last season as a Junior. “It was an amazing weekend and I did super well, but it’s going to be tough to leave and be done with this part of it. I’m going to miss all of my friends and everything.”
She qualified for State in barrels again this season after taking third during Sunday’s Gaming Events and finished second in the Individual Flags after a run of 8.63 seconds following an incredible run in the Pole Bending event about 25 minutes prior to the Indy Flags event.
Prior to the event starting, it was announced that the District Meet record for the Pole Bending was 21.5 seconds.
When it was her turn, with Geiling in charge with her mental focus and mixed in with her horse’s quick-feet, agility and speed in the event that requires you to sprint, weave back to the starting line and weave back to the back of the arena before sprinting to the finish line without occurring a five-second penalty for knocking over a pole; by the time the Senior crossed the line, the timer read: 21.505.
The Olympian and her horse were .005 of a second away from breaking the record and adding another record-holder title to her resume before she graduates here in June.
“It was really cool because I was riding my baby I’ve trained, so that was super cool to be that close to it. It’s exciting,” said Geiling on the near-record breaking run.
As the meet wrapped up with the Keyhole Event, Geiling was one of the last riders to go into the arena when one of her friends around the on-deck area that this was it that almost sparked the emotions prior to her last ride. With ‘Senior Night’ the night before in the last ‘full’-day of events, this was it for the Seniors in the field.
But Geiling regained her composure, went out and completed the run before retiring to the stall for the Meet with her horse in hand.
To have competed with four-year-old Jetta and 18-year-old Doll this year and sharing this last District meet with them one last time in front of a large crowd as there was for much of Sunday’s final day.
“It’s really cool, I’m really happy to have them here and be able to compete on them,” said Geiling of sharing the moment with her two horses one last time.
And as emotional as this particular Sunday is, she has five or six events left for the Sprague Equestrian program before it’s all said and down. But it’s more than just competing that she hopes the most to make the most of the situation:
It’s about going out and making memories while she’s out there competing against the State’s best in the sport she’s loved so much growing up.
“It’s meant a whole lot, it is my whole life. It’s everything I do, I devote everything to it,” said Geiling on the sport of Equestrian. “I’m just going to go out there and have fun and make memories about my teammates. I don’t really care about how I do to be honest, I just want to have fun with my friends and make memories because that’s what really counts.”