The Texas Arena League recently played its second leg at Legend’s Horse Ranch (East Texas Polo Club) in Kaufman, Texas. Two USPA Circuit Arena Military tournaments were played during the competition. To qualify for a military tournament, one player from each team must have a military connection (active duty, retired or family member of military).
The first military tournament was the General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller Cup (3-6 goal) which featured San Antonio Polo Club (Coast Guard) against Central Texas Polo Association (Air Force). The players and their military connection for San Antonio were Jack Crea (children serve in Coast Guard), Gal Sweiki (wife is an Army doctor) and Patrick MacLeod (Air Force ROTC and father was Colonel in Air Force). The players and their military connections for Central Texas Polo Association were Cody Goetz (Major in Air Force), Nicolas Ongania (grandfather was Army General) and Luis Herrera (uncle in the Air Force). The match was a tight one and each team held the lead several times. Entering the final chukker, Central Texas Polo Association was ahead 12-9. San Antonio pulled out all the stops with every member of the team scoring and five goals total, but Central Texas Polo Association scored one more goal to win the match 13-12. Jack Crea was named Most Valuable Player and his horse Rubia won Best Playing Pony honors.
The Texas Arena League has two divisions: 0- to 3-goal and 3- to 6-goal. In the 0- to 3-goal division, the Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was played for by Legend’s East Texas (Army) and Central Texas Polo Association (Marines). Playing for Central Texas Polo Association were Taylor Morris (family in Marines and Army), Lauren Platt (family in Navy and Army) and Loreto Natividad (family in Navy). On the Legend’s East Texas team were Wyatt Myr (father a Sergeant in Army Caisson troops), Melanie Pugmire (family in Army) and Olivia Uechtritz. Central Texas Polo Association took home the win. Taylor Morris was named Most Valuable Player and Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Myr’s Whiskey Doc.
Additional matches played in the 3- to 6-goal division included the Southwest Circuit Arena Masters Cup and Texas Arena League 3- to 6-goal round-robin. For the Arena Masters, County Line (Kendall Plank, Seth Bray, Wendy Stover) defeated Midland Polo Club (Leigh Fulkerson, Brady Williams, Marissa Wells*). Kendall Plank was awarded Most Valuable Player and the Best Playing Pony Award was presented to Shakin’ Vibes played by Wendy Stover and owned by Stacey Stover. In the Texas Arena League round-robin, Prevalecer (Loreto Natividad, Ashley Owen, Pato Tadeo) won two matches against Dallas Polo Club (Sterling May, Will Walton, Quique Garcia) and Legend’s Polo Club (Wyatt Myr, Nacho Estrada, Steve Gilchrist).
The 0- to 3-goal division also played a round-robin for the Southwestern Circuit Arena Congressional Cup with County Line One (Drew Richardson, Zain Saud, Oscar Bermudez Jr.) winning over both Legend’s Polo (Nacho Estrada, Katie Anderson, Steve Gilchrist) and County Line Two (John Hand, Farook Malik, Ismael Vasquez). Most Valuable Player was presented to Steve Gilchrist and Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Maria played by John Hand.
The final leg of the Texas Arena League is scheduled for March 3-4, at Midland Polo Club in Midland, Texas, where league champions will be determined.
*Marissa Wells is a member of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.
All photos ©Walter Workman.