The Texas Arena League (TAL) celebrated another record-setting season of competition with the End of League Awards on Saturday, March 12, the night of the final TAL event. Patton Legacy Sports and Legends Polo Club generously agreed to host a barbeque at the Legends pavilion for a fun night of awards and camaraderie. Awards for the 0- to -3 goal, the C-Flight and the 6- to -9 goal were presented to all of the talented players who had already competed and some lighthearted post-awards karaoke kept the party alive well into the night. Awards for the 3- to -6 goal level were presented after play concluded on Sunday, March 13.
“Thanks to the generosity of our amazing sponsors and commitment of our teams and players, the Texas Arena League is able to have a robust End of League awards and party,” shared Robin Sanchez, TAL committee member and co-founder. “We’ve got more prizes than Oprah!”
Most awards like the High-Point Individual, Most Valuable Player and Best Playing Pony are based on points won during Texas Arena League play. However, there are some awards that are nominated and voted on by a special awards committee, such as Best Team Player, Horsemanship Award and Best Defenseman. Finally, there are certain awards that are voted on by tournament participants, including Players’ Choice Competitor, Best Host Club and the #FanFavorite, an award voted on by spectators.
Auour Polo’s Megan Rahlfs and Lindsey Bellack.
Karl Hilberg has played in the Texas Arena League since its inception and played on the Texas Military and Patton Legacy Sports teams during the League. “TAL is one of the best things going on in the polo world currently,” said Hilberg. “The participation, camaraderie and sportsmanship put it on a level above other polo events. The league gives new polo players a safe and fun introduction into competitive play and is an avenue for former players, especially collegiate players, to get back into polo in a welcoming environment.”
New to TAL this year, Alisha Clark reminisced about her experience, sharing, “This was my first time playing in the Texas Arena League, but I have anxiously wanted to play since the first year the Texas Arena League started. The league, the players and the experience exceeded my expectations. I felt embraced and accepted by the community. It feels like family to me. I had so much fun playing and getting to see the players and horses in their element. It’s really why I enjoy playing the sport of polo so much. I was surprised and truly honored to receive the Sportsmanship Award.”
Legends’ August Scherer.
Gustavo Toro’s mare Peppy won the Nutrena Best Playing Pony at the 0- to -3 goal level. Overjoyed to be awarded the honor, Toro remarked, “Peppy is such a great polo mare. She is very easy and has the speed and stamina to play at any level. She is easy going when you are tapping the ball and is ready to go full speed when needed. She is a pet, always comes to say hello and follows me when I’m leaving the barn. Victor Aguilar bred several mares to a Peppy San Badger stallion from Texas A&M University and all of them turned out to be really good. Several of those horses ended up playing in Guatemala. I am very lucky to have her and look forward to playing her for several more years.”
The four finalist teams in the General Patton received Olympic pins from Michelle Strauss of Patton Legacy Sports. The pins harken back to George Smith Patton Jr., the 1912 Stockholm Summer Olympic Games pentathlon competitor. Though not connected to polo, the pins provided were intended to honor the players for showcasing that same competitive spirit that Patton Jr. displayed while competing.
A special thank you to all those who participated in TAL this year and helped to make it the best season yet. TAL looks to build on this year’s success to continue providing competitive and fun polo next season.
C-Flight’s Rising Stars’ Lexi Harlan, Sydney Flint, Emrey Owen.
League Team Champions
C-Flight (12 teams total)
Winners: Free Burma Rangers – Sahale Eubanks, Suzanne Eubanks, Kyle Greenwood
Second Place: Legends Polo School – John David Clark, Hayley Winson, John Winson
Third Place: JD Polo – Valeria Insua, Bart Maney, Stephen Stout
Fourth Place: Place for Peanut – Lexi Elder, Amelia Fisher, Christina Cantu
0-3 Goal (16 teams total)
Winners: Los Tres Ingleses – Verity Cameron, James Glew, Don English
Second Place: Polo InterActive – Jose Velez, Tanner Kneese, Javier Insua
Third Place: Blue Star – Serena Belsby, Megan Flynn, Ashley Owen
Fourth Place: Bar-Spur – Amanda Osburn, Mark Osburn, Brady Williams
Fifth Place: Legends Polo Club – Marcus Murphy, Taylor Hooten, Nacho Estrada
3- to 6-Goal (12 teams overall)
Winners: Dallas Polo Club – Mike Farah, Will Walton, Lindsay Bellack
Second Place: Herk’s Store and Grill – Wendy Stover, Ashley Owen, Megan Flynn
Third Place: Legends Polo Club – Nacho Estrada, Hayley Winson, John Winson, August Scherer
Fourth Place: Auour Polo – Molly Hosler, Rob Payne III, Rehan Kumble
Fifth Place: LeasePlan – Lisa Yanskey, Tiamo Hudspeth*, Megan Rahlfs
6- to 9-Goal (six teams overall)
Winners: Dallas Polo Club – Will Walton, Mike Farah, Joaquin Arguello
Second Place: Bar-Spur – Mark Osburn, Chad Bowman, Brady Williams, Wyatt Myr
Third Place: Horsegate – Lance Stefanakis, Ariel Mancebo, Sloan Stefanakis*, Anson Moore, Carlos Ramirez
Fourth Place: Straussfeld Realty – Megan Flynn, Cody Woodfin, Ashley Owen
Nutrena Best Playing Pony Moxie, played by Tiamo Hudspeth.
Nutrena Best Playing Pony
Katniss (Will Walton)
Peppy (Gustavo Toro, Ally Vaughn)
Frijolita (August Scherer, Katie Anderson)
Moxie (Tiamo Hudspeth)
Galvin Agency MVP
Catena USA Sportsmanship Award
PSL Polo’s Sarah Morelli and Dallas Polo Club’s Lindsey Bellack.
Royal B Threads Best Team Player
The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program Best Playing Thoroughbred
Esmerelda (Megan Flynn)
Zama (Megan Rahlfs)
Steely Dame (Wendy Stover)
AQHA Best Playing Quarter Horse
Uncle Lucious (Megan Flynn)
Hollis Sonitalena “Sonita” (Brady Williams)
A Place for Peanut’s Lexi Elder.
Aubone Mallets Best Offensive Player
Casablanca Polo Best Defensive Player
Jackrabbit Tack High-Point Individual
Elite Motion & Performance Most Improved Valeria Insua, pictured with Amanda Masey.
Elite Motion & Performance Most Improved
Murrell Photography Best Presented
U.S. Polo Assn. High-Point Overall
PSL Polo’s Carolyn Stimmel.
Pro Chukker Players’ Choice Competitor
Royal B Threads Best Host Club
Legends Polo Club
Intercollegiate/Interscholastic High-Point Player/Alumni
#FanFavorite Players Emery Owen and Tiamo Hudspeth.
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*Tiamo Hudspeth, Audry Persano and Sloan Stefanakis are Team USPA alumnae. 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 courtesy of ©David Murrell.