Prestonwood won the USPA Open National Interscholastic (NIS) 2016 Championship at Empire Polo Club, defeating West Shore 13-11
Prestonwood Wins 2016 USPA Open National Interscholastic Championship
Prestonwood Polo Club: Ronnie Puente, Vaughn Miller Jr, Vance Miller III and Coach Vaughn Miller. Photo: Amy Fraser/USPA.
Houston, TX - March 15, 2016 - Prestonwood won the 2016 USPA Open National Interscholastic (NIS) Championship at ERG Arena at the Houston Polo Club in Brookshire, TX, defeating West Shore 13-11 in a tightly contested final on Sunday. It was an exciting victory for Prestonwood, having lost the final to West Shore last year.
Playing for the 2016 Prestonwood team were: Vance Miller III, Vaughn Miller Jr. and Ronnie Puente, coached by Vaughn Miller. West Shore's roster included: Jackson Bennett, Tommy Huber, Will Green and Pelham Hardie, coached by Cindy Halle and Posey Obrecht.
All-Stars: Vaughn Miller Jr (Prestonwood Polo Club), Tommy Huber (West Shore Polo Club), Ronnie Puente (Prestonwood Polo Club) and Brennan Wells (Maryland Polo Club). Photo: Amy Fraser/USPA.
Prestonwood's strategy coming into the game was to "win the ride-offs and play big defense because defense wins games," said Puente, who made two goals. He called the game "awesome," adding, "It was a close game. We had to fight until the last second."
Teammate Vance Miller III agreed, saying, "It was such a hard fight, and we fought to the end. I am just thankful to be here."
In Vaughn Miller Jr.'s view, the victory was the result of dedication and preparation. "We worked so hard, so many hours, so many practices, and it paid off," he said. He was the high-scorer in the final, with nine goals.
The tournament featured the top six high school teams in the country, including Maryland, Poway, Central Coast/Santa Barbara and Country Farms polo clubs. Fifteen-year-old Jack McLean, who played for Maryland, sang the national anthem at the opening ceremonies.
Best Playing Pony: "Ally" owned by Prestonwood Polo Club.
Photo: Amy Fraser/USPA.
Accepting the Best Playing Pony Award for "Sunshine", owned by Texas A&M is Lara Straussfeld, presented by Amy Fraser (Director of I/I). Photo: Elizabeth Hedley.
Winners of the Open NIS are awarded the George C. Sherman trophy, which has been presented to polo's interscholastic champions since 1928. Awards in the 2016 tournament went to:
Open NIS All-Stars: Tommy Huber (West Shore), Ronnie Puente (Prestonwood), Brennan Wells (Maryland) and Vaughn Miller Jr. (Prestonwood)
Open NIS Sportsmanship Award: Pelham Hardie (West Shore)
OPEN NIS Best Playing Pony (tie): Ally, owned by Prestonwood Polo Club, and Sunshine, owned by Texas A&M
OPEN NIS Best Playing String: Prestonwood
Sportsmanship Award: Pelham Hardie (West Shore).
Photo: Amy Fraser/USPA.
The USPA Open National Interscholastic Championship tournament is part of the United States Polo Association's Intercollegiate/Interscholastic (I/I) polo program, which is dedicated to growing the sport by providing maximum exposure, recruiting collegiate and scholastic institutions, coordinating activities and organized competition. Supporting this mission, the I/I program has experienced tremendous growth in recent years.
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