O’Connell, Voges and Zach advance to semifinal competition | TSLN.com

O’Connell, Voges and Zach advance to semifinal competition

The members of NDSU's Western equestrian team who are advancing to semifinal competition display the ribbons they received at post-season regional competition in Crookston, MN. They are, from left, Kelly O'Connell, Shannon Voges and Juliann Zach.

Three members of North Dakota State University’s Western equestrian team advanced to semifinal competition at the University of Findlay in Findlay, OH, on Saturday and Sunday, March 26-27.

Kelly O’Connell, a senior from Green Bay, WI, qualified for that competition in the reining and open divisions. Senior Shannon Voges of Courtland, MN, qualified to compete in the advanced division. Juliann Zach, a sophomore from Rosholt, SD, will compete in the intermediate division.

They were among 12 members of the team who qualified for post-season regional competition at the University of Minnesota-Crookston on March 6.

“All of the regional riders should be commended for excellent performances at regionals,” said Tara Swanson, the team’s coach. “Only the top two riders from each division advance from the regional level to semifinals, so it is a big accomplishment to have three individuals competing in four events at semifinals.”

O’Connell also was named the Zone 7 Region 3 American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Cup Rider at the Crookston event. That means she was the overall high point regional rider for the year. She will travel to national competition in Lexington, KY, in May to compete in the reining and open divisions against the AQHA Cup riders from the other regions throughout the U.S.

“O’Connell has really excelled this season, and her hard work and dedication were rewarded with the honor of being named regional AQHA Cup Rider,” Swanson said. “We will be practicing hard the next month to prepare her, and possibly Voges and Zach, for the national competition in May.”