Undefeated once again in their second 8-goal tournament of the season, Crestview Genetics controlled the competition defeating every opponent by a margin of at least four goals leading up to the Tommy Hitchcock Memorial Final on Sunday, June 2. A relatively even first two chukkers of play belied Crestview Genetics’ ultimate takeover as they claimed the third, fourth and fifth periods with an explosive performance from Hugo Lloret. Demonstrating the value of consistent team members, Crestview Genetics (Aiden Meeker, Alan Meeker, Mariano Gracida, Hugo Lloret) captured their third consecutive Tommy Hitchcock Memorial title at New Bridge Polo & Country Club in Aiken, South Carolina, with a decisive 14-7 victory over Upatoi Green (Manuel Martinez, Robert Montas, Omar Cepeda, Eddy Martinez).

Lloret opened the scoring with a penalty conversion to place Crestview Genetics on the scoreboard, but was quickly countered by Upatoi Green’s Eddy Martinez to end the first in a tie. Robert Montas, substituting for an injured Jake Flournoy, contributed the only Upatoi goal in the second as Crestview Genetics inched away outscoring their opponents by one to take the lead. Crestview Genetics unleashed their offensive attack in the third as Lloret scored a hattrick, team owner Alan Meeker adding another goal for an even four to Upatoi Green’s sole Penalty 1 to end the half 7-3 in favor of the 2018 champs.

Scoring nine out of 14 goals, Crestview Genetics' Hugo Lloret was awarded Most Valuable Player.

Scoring nine out of 14 goals, Crestview Genetics’ Hugo Lloret was awarded Most Valuable Player.

Unphased by the break in momentum, Lloret continued his onslaught of goals into the second half contributing another three in the fourth. Eddy Martinez punctuated Lloret’s efforts with a Penalty 3 conversion, but a goal from Crestview Genetics’ Gracida widened the gap 11-4. Two unanswered Crestview goals in the fifth further cemented their lead moving into the final chukker. Upatoi Green’s chances slipping through their fingers, they rallied in the sixth besting their rivals with three back-to-back goals to keep the dream alive, but it was too little too late. A final goal from Alan Meeker, his third on the day, doubled Crestview Genetics’ lead to seal the victory 14-7.

Reflecting on a successful spring season Aiden Meeker spoke about Crestview Genetics’ winning approach. “I would say the reason that we have an amazing team is because we all come together and watch game tapes,” revealed Aiden Meeker, Crestview Genetics’ youngest player who received Most Valuable Player in 2018’s Final. “When we watch the films we talk about different strategies and once we find one that works for us we stick to it, adapting it to the other teams, until we need to change,” he continued.

Highlighting family polo, Aiden expressed gratitude to both play and win alongside his father for two out of the three title wins. “It feels amazing to play with my dad, he teaches me so much from his experience,” Aiden said.

Crestview Genetics' Mariano Gracida keeps his eye on the ball as Upatoi Green's Omar Cepeda races to defend.

Crestview Genetics’ Mariano Gracida keeps his eye on the ball as Upatoi Green’s Omar Cepeda races to defend.

Unsurprisingly, Most Valuable Player was presented to Hugo Lloret with nine of his team’s total 14 goals. Lloret’s fourth chukker chestnut mare Barbie, a 10-year old American Thoroughbred, received her second Best Playing Pony honor of the season, presented by Dr. Jillian Barrett of Aiken Audiology with her husband Raymond Barrett and service dog Roosevelt. “Hugo has been my mentor throughout my whole polo career,” Aiden said. “He’s just amazing at what he does and never ceases to amaze me and my team with his knowledge of the game. The best thing is that he doesn’t keep it too himself, he teaches me, so one day I can be as good as him.”

Lloret’s fourth chukker chestnut mare Barbie received her second Best Playing Pony honor of the season, presented by Aiken Audiology. Pictured with Francisco Lloret, Caty and Huguito Lloret.

Lloret’s fourth chukker chestnut mare Barbie received her second Best Playing Pony honor of the season, presented by Aiken Audiology. Pictured with Francisco Lloret, Caty and Huguito Lloret.

New Bridge Polo & Country Club will host a 12-Goal Trifecta this coming fall 2019. Three national USPA tournaments will be held during the months of September and October. All interested teams are encouraged to sign up for this one-of-a-kind opportunity. For more information, please email Polo Manager, Hayley Bryan at hbryan2485@aol.com or General Manager, Raza Kazmi at razanewbridge@gmail.com.

All photos courtesy of ©Katie Roth.

2019 Tommy Hitchcock Memorial Champions: Crestview Genetics – Hugo Lloret, Mariano Gracida, Alan Meeker, Aiden Meeker, presented by Mrs. Peggy Meeker and pictured with Caty and Huguito Lloret.

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