On Sunday, August 13, the Big Horn Mountains provided a stunning backdrop for the Pacific Northwest Circuit Women’s Challenge at Big Horn Polo Club outside of Sheridan, Wyoming. Also known as the Kurt Luplow Women’s Memorial, the tournament is named for the late Big Horn polo player whose family wanted to sponsor a tournament in his memory. According to family member Terri Luplow Gold, “The women’s tournament fit this idea perfectly.”
This year’s competition boasted an impressive field of five 10- to 12-goal teams participating. Two preliminary games were played on Friday, August 11, with the final match tipping off Sunday afternoon.
“We all agreed how lucky we were to be able to play such a beautiful sport at such a spectacular club at the base of the Big Horn Mountains.” – San Saba/Century 21’s Dawn Jones
San Saba/Century 21’s Carter Nix leans into the bump on BTA/Java Moon’s Katie George admist the idyllic Big Horn Mountains. ©Kaile Roos
The final game pitted BTA/Java Moon (Chrys Beal, DeeDee Connell, Katie George, Alyson Poor) against San Saba/Century 21 (Sarah Cooper-Scott, Carter Nix, Kendall Plank, Dawn Jones). BTA/Java Moon began with a one-goal handicap for the four chukker game. George scored the first goal of the match with a penalty shot, but Jones successfully fired the ball through the goal posts to bring her team within one. Poor then scored BTA/Java Moon’s second goal in the first chukker putting the BTA/Java Moon team ahead 3-1.
In the second chukker, George again scored off the penalty line for BTA/Java Moon, but Plank and Jones both landed goals for San Saba/Century 21, leaving BTA/Java Moon hanging on to the lead by only one point.
After some enthusiastic divot stomping from spectators, Cooper-Scott sent a successful pass to Jones to score for San Saba/Century 21, tying the game 4-all. A successful shot on goal by Nix edged San Saba/Century 21 ahead 5-4 at the end of the third chukker. Despite several great passes and hits toward goal, BTA/Java Moon was shut out in the fourth. A final goal by Jones secured San Saba/Century 21 the win and ended the game with a score of 6-4.
Most Valuable Player Chrys Beal, presented by Cutting Edge Performance Horses’ Amanda Burns. ©Kurt Luplow
Chrys Beal received the Most Valuable Player Award for her solid defense and teamwork with BTA/Java Moon.
“This was a very competitive tournament and our team worked hard to get to the finals,” explained Beal. “We played hard but could not overcome the speed and accuracy of San Saba in the end. My horses played exceptionally well for me in both games. That gave me a lot of confidence to make plays and contribute to our team effort. I already look forward to next year’s tournament.”
Best Playing Pony Nochebuena, played and owned by Dawn Jones, presented by Cutting Edge Performance Horses’ Amanda Burns and pictured with Luis Cartagenas. ©Kurt Luplow
Dawn Jones accepted the Best Playing Pony Award for Nochebuena, her nine-year-old gray mare bred by Marcelo and Costi Caset in Lobos, Argentina.
“Nochebuena is an exceptional mare,” said Jones. “She has played better than ever since her colic surgery. She survived colic surgery at Auburn University this past December and played the last two games of the U.S. Women’s Open in March. This mare has unlimited power, speed and handiness. She gives me confidence to consistently play my handicap, and sometimes even exceeds my handicap.”
San Saba/Century 21’s Sarah Cooper-Scott leads the pack downfield. ©Kaile Roos
Jones was grateful to be a part of the Kurt Luplow Memorial Women’s Tournament. “All the teams were formidable, with each team featuring seasoned players mixed with up-and-coming beginners. That provided a perfect learning opportunity for all, and great fun with and against friends in our tight-knit community,” Jones noted. “I was very proud of my teammates, Sarah, Carter and Kendall for approaching the game with a solid strategy before the first throw-in. We all knew our positions on whom to mark, and how to maintain possession of the ball. We struggled in the first chukker but came back in the last three more focused. There were several plays that involved every player of our team contributing to score. Our overall approach was to be safe, have fun, learn something new and respect our opponents. We all agreed how lucky we were to be able to play such a beautiful sport at such a spectacular club at the base of the Big Horn Mountains.”BIG HORN POLO CLUB