W.F. West Equestrian Team headed to the Pacific Northwest Invitational Championship


After the dust settled from competing at the Washington High School Equestrian Team (WAHSET) State Meet in Moses Lake in May, 12 of 21 athletes from the W.F. West High School Equestrian Team qualified to compete in the Pacific Northwest Invitational Championship. 

They will compete against the best of Oregon High School Equestrian Team (OHSET) riders from June 14-16 in Moses Lake. 

The W.F. West High School Equestrian Team includes students from several schools, including Onalaska, Napavine, Adna, Winlock, Toledo, Centralia and Mossyrock. 

W.F. West Equestrian Team athletes will compete in four events, with two team competitions included.

The drill team captured the bronze medal, coming in third place overall for large teams in Washington state. This year’s drill team consists of 10 athletes: Haillee Hellem, a senior from Adna; Jaydean Hellem, a senior from Adna; Preslee Hellem, a freshman from Adna; Shaylie Flanery, a senior from Toledo; Amelia Venters, a homeschooled freshman from Onalaska; Katelyn Dipo, a senior from Adna; Samantha Barber, a freshman from Napavine; Cyndle Haller, a junior from Adna; Shanelle Mathis, a junior from W.F. West; and Maizy Samuelson, a homeschooled sophomore from Centralia sophomore. 

The W.F. West in hand obstacle relay team received fifth place overall in Washington state. Their four-athlete team consists of Isabel Thompson, a sophomore at W.F. West; Flanery; Samuelson; and Dipo, stepping in as alternate for Navea Dunn, a homeschooled senior from Napavine senior.

W.F. West athletes will compete in two individual events, showmanship and breakaway roping. Samuelson had a successful showmanship performance with her backup horse, Tess. Her main horse, Tommy, suffered an eye injury just prior to performing. Samuelson and Tess secured their spot by receiving the silver medal, placing second in Washington state overall. 

Leslie Gonia, a freshman from Adna, nailed down her first Washington state championship title, taking the gold medal for breakaway roping. So far for her freshman season, Gonia has acquired two gold medals. Gonia and her roping partner, Ricky Bobby, will head off to Pacific Northwest Invitational Championships in pursuit of another title.

Everyone who competed at the WAHSET state meet worked extremely hard, gave it their all and did the W.F. West Equestrian Team proud, coaches stated in a news release.

The W.F. West Equestrian Team will end their season at the Pacific Northwest Invitational Championships. The season started in October 2023. The next season will begin in September. Interested students should look for signup information at their high schools.

“W.F. West Equestrian Team wants to thank all our sponsors and coaches,” the news release stated. “Our team runs solely off of sponsorships and volunteers. We thank our athletes and their families as well, but let’s not forget all their wonderful horses that these athletes devote hours of work to all year long to become the best they can be. The love and willingness these animals have for their athletes is amazing and it shows. Let’s go Bearcats!”

Learn more about WAHSET at https://www.wahset.info/