The NWA Polo Club (Gravette, Arkansas) hosted its final USPA tournament of the season on Friday, September 16 through Sunday, September 18 with the Great Plains Circuit Arena Congressional Cup. Teams were formed from across the circuit and beyond, with players traveling from Dallas, Texas, and St. Louis, Missouri, to compete.
Day one of the games saw the powerful St. Louis (Gregory Siwak, Winnie Branscum, Humberto Sanchez) beating NWA Polo (Verity Cameron, Gracie Brush, Don English Jr., Susie Koehler, Robson MacCartney) 16-4 and Tulsa (James Glew, Greg Summers, Karen Summers, Jair De la Pena) overtaking Windrush (Stuart Irby Jr., Bo Brister IV, Ben Haley) 18-4.
This put the two Arkansas based clubs and teams, NWA Polo and Windrush, in the consolation match for a spirited rivalry between Bentonville in Northwest Arkansas and Little Rock in Central Arkansas. NWA Polo’s English Jr., who also plays in Dallas, Texas, dominated the scoreboard with nine goals, while Brush scored six times and MacCartney scored two for a total of 17. Windrush’s Haley and Irby each scored once and Brister added two goals to the tally for a total of six, including a two-point advantage on handicap, to end the match 17-4 in favor of NWA Polo.
In the final, St. Louis’ Humberto Sanchez scored in the first seconds of the game to put his team on the offensive. Teammates Winnie Branscum and Greg Siwak also scored back-to-back goals, but Tulsa’s La Pena and Glew, also from Dallas, both responded with goals before the chukker’s end. A late penalty conversion from Sanchez, however, pushed St. Louis to a 4-2 lead at the end of the first chukker.
Most Valuable Player Humberto Sanchez.
Tulsa struggled in the second chukker, with St. Louis’ Siwak and Sanchez both scoring twice with just a single goal response from Summers, ending the half with St. Louis firmly in the lead, 10-7. After the break, Tulsa was able to generate momentum, with two goals from Glew and a goal from Summers reigniting the team’s offensive drive in the third chukker. Outscoring St. Louis by one at the end of the third, Tulsa continued to revive their attack with four goals in the fourth chukker, but their late comeback drive was not enough to overtake St. Louis’ initial energy. As the final horn sounded, St. Louis clung to a 13-10 lead to claim the victory.
Spectators enjoyed the fast pace of the game as well as the advanced skills and teamwork from both teams. St. Louis’ Sanchez won Most Valuable Player for his offensive prowess over the course of the tournament. Grateful for his team, Sanchez shared, “We had a blast. Greg, Winnie and I play together a lot, and we adapted our outdoor strategies for the setting. In the end, it worked well for us to bring home the trophy.” Greg Summers’ mare Lolita was awarded Best Playing Pony and Windrush’s Ben Haley received the Sportsmanship Award. The teams were treated to prize money, ceramic USPA blue platters and other camping/Fall themed prizes, including Duke Cannon soap products and Malbec Wine.
Best Playing Pony Lolita, played by James Glew and owned by Greg Summers.
*This tournament recap article was submitted for publication by NWA Polo Club. Learn more about how to submit USPA tournament recaps here or send your submission to Communications Coordinator Madelyn Blum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos courtesy of ©NWA Polo Club.