Sophomore rides to nationals


Photo courtesy Selina Petronelli

Sophomore Selina Petronelli and her horse, Parker, clear a hurdle at a competition. Petronelli has been captain of the equestrian team since freshman year.

Riding strongly on the back of one of her horses on over one-hundred acres of land, sophomore Selina Petronelli prepares both mentally and physically for an upcoming national equestrian competition.

These hundred acres are more than just practice grounds for Petronelli. Petronelli lives on Claddagh Manor located on Calvary Road, the farm with over 50 horses where the equestrian team practices.

“I share about three horses, but I have a main one that used to be a racehorse, and we kept its names when we bought it. Its show name is Made You Look, but its normal name is just Parker,” Petronelli said.

According to head coach Denise Petronelli, Selina’s mother, Selina knows the animals well and this allows her to play two roles on the team. “She’s one of the strongest riders, but she also has the responsibility of managing all the animals and equipment,” Denise said.

Selina has been riding horses and competing since she was two and practices at least twice a week. She currently competes in the highest division of competition of the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), and is the only one on the school team competing at that level.

“Selina is always at all of the team riding lessons and IEA shows to support her teammates,” sophomore teammate Brooke Hare said.

The equestrian team includes 12 members, and Petronelli has been the captain since her freshman year. Denise Petronelli and Beth Hess are the coaches, and according to Selina, have both helped the team improve this year.

Denise has been coaching Selina since she started riding, and started the JC equestrian team around 11 years ago when Selina’s sister Lauren Moran, class of ‘08, attended JC. After Moran graduated, Denise took a break from coaching, but now that Selina is here, Denise started to coach again.

Though Denise is Selina’s coach, with the help of Hess, she is able to be refrain from “just coaching” Selina. “[With Beth] it lets me step back and be her mom. Selina handles the stress [of competition] a bit differently, and she needs me to be her mom when she’s in the ring,” Denise said.

“I like my mom being coach. She understands how to actually train me because she has watched me ever since I was little,” Selina said.

Other members of the team feel the mother-daughter dynamic has been a positive asset to the team. “They work really well together. They’re a really good team. Selina and her mother work together to coach the rest of us, and they just know what they’re talking about,” sophomore teammate Taylor Cruz said.

According to her teammates, Petronelli’s expertise in the sport has been very useful, especially since she is always available for help. “Selina is a great asset to our team. She shares a lot of knowledge and experience with everyone,” Hare said.

At competitions, riders compete individually and gain points for both the individual and team scores. Petronelli was the only one who qualified individually and competed at nationals in West Palm Beach, Florida, the weekend of April 24. There, Selina came in eighth place out of 21 riders.

The team is happy for her, and feels she is representative of the team’s success. “It’s really great,” Cruz said. “We went from not even qualifying as a team last year to being able to go to zones with an individual rider this year.”

“I love just being on the team,” Petronelli said. “We all work together really well.”

Claire Grunewald is a Lifestyles Editor for The Patriot and