Over the cold weekend of April 6-8, the USPA Centennial Cup Texas Youth Outdoor Spring Challenge had five teams participating in exciting games hosted by Pecan Acres Polo Club (Simonton, Texas), Rocking P Polo Ranch and Horsegate Ranch. Defeating L.A. Waters Quarter Horses by one goal in the final minutes of play, Rocking P Polo ultimately claimed the championship title 4-3. Players traveled all the way from San Antonio and Dallas to compete along with local Houston area participants. “I looked forward to this tournament because it brings an interscholastic feel to an outdoor tournament and offers regional winners the ability to compete in a national championship,” said Clark Mayer, a 16-year-old sophomore.
Semifinal games began on Friday, April 6, at Horsegate Ranch in Hempstead, Texas, resulting in two riveting shootouts between four teams. A round-robin started the tournament off with the first and second chukkers played between L.A. Waters Quarter Horses (Clark Mayer, Maxwell Bueck, Madison Outhier, Christian Fridge) and Horsegate Ranches (Anson Moore, Lance Stefanakis, Joanie Jackson, Cara Kennedy). A tough two chukkers ended in a tie 1-all and Horsegate continued to play the next two chukkers against Vintage Polo Ponies (Chino Payan, Grace Mudra, Will Mudra, Lily Lequerica). Horsegate outscored Vintage 2-1 which led to the final two chukkers between L.A. Waters and Vintage, L.A. Waters coming out on top with a score of 2-1. A shootout was held between Horsegate and L.A. Waters with Mayer sinking the penalty shot goal that put his team into the finals. The second game consisted of Rocking P Polo (Grayson Price, Daniella Price, Bridget Price, Joe Bob Lequerica) versus Pecan Acres Polo (Joe Mac Stimmel, Quique Garcia, Charlie Fridge, Grace Parker). After a hard-fought four chukkers the game ended in a 3-all tie. A two round shootout was held between Stimmel and Grayson Price which resulted in Rocking P Polo advancing to the final against L.A. Waters.
Sunday’s consolations and the championship final game were played on Farish Field at the Houston Polo Club in Houston, Texas. Horsegate and Pecan Acres started the round-robin consolation game. Pecan Acres scored three goals and Horsegate answered back with two quick goals in return. Horsegate then went on to play Vintage Polo Ponies where it ended in a tie 2-all. The final two chukkers played out between Vintage and Pecan Acres and resulted in another 2-all tied game. The consolations concluded with Pecan Acres Polo claiming third-place on the winner’s podium because of a net one-goal advantage against Vintage and Horsegate.
The championship match started off with a bang as Rocking P’s Grayson Price scored back-to-back field goals in the first chukker. L.A. Waters’ Mayer responded with a goal for his team and another in the second chukker, tying the score 2-all. Even until the fourth chukker, Mayer scored for L.A. Waters again, finally breaking the tie 3-2. Grayson Price tied the game up again with a penalty shot and added another field goal to win the final for Rocking P Polo 4-3 in an exciting sixth chukker.
Awards were provided and presented by tournament organizers from Rocking P Polo, Carl and Kelly Price, and Kristy Outhier with L.A. Waters Quarter Horses who provided Most Valuable Player and Best Playing Pony awards. Umpires and club officials selected Grayson Price for Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony was presented by Kristy Outhier to Madison Outhier’s horse, Copenhagen. “He stays close to the ground which makes it easier to keep track of the ball and is able to execute quick turns even while running full out in a play,” Madison Outhier said.
The tournament a success, Grace Parker shared her thoughts on the experience, “I enjoyed this tournament because I was able to play competitive outdoor polo with friends on the big Sunday field and the trophies were awesome.”
All photos ©Courtney Price