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By Emma Childs 

It has been weeks since severe storms hit Berry College, toppling over 500 trees and inflicting damage on buildings and highlighting campus news.

But today, a bigger, better, and much brighter highlight will be forever commemorated in Berry athletic history.
The Western riders of the 2010-2011 Vikings equestrian team clinched their first-ever national title at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) finals in Lexington, Ky.

"It was great," head coach Margaret Knight said. "Every rider just went out and rode so well."

In the team portion of the classes, Kristen Atwell finished third in Advanced Western Horsemanship while teammate Ariel Robelen placed second in the Intermediate division.

Senior Allie Jones won the Open Rail Class to finish out the team classes for the day.

In the individual classes that followed, Jones finished second in the AQHA Cup, which was a combined class of rail and reining. 

The class was only open to the nation's top 24 riders, and Jones, a native of Cambridge, England (and Berry graduate as of Saturday), emerged with a red second-place ribbon and the prestige of being one of the best riders in the whole country.

Atwell ended the day with her seventh place finish in Individual Novice Western Horsemanship and Robelen followed with another seven on the board for Berry in the Individual Beginner division.

"They truly dominated," Knight said. She attributed much of the riders' success not only to dedication but also to the unity of the whole team.

"They all worked hard before the show, during the show and completely supported each other the whole way."
The Lady Vikings concluded their performance with an overall point total of 33, decisively clinching the victory, followed by Oregon State's 23 points, and then Black Hawk College (Ill.) and University of Findley (Ohio) in third and fourth place, respectively.

Knight summed it up in a voice bubbling with joy and pride for her riders when she said,  "Ultimately, this is the first time Berry College has ever won a national equestrian championship and it is incredibly exciting!"

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