Club sports teams representing OU on national stage

March marks a successful time to be on a club sports team, as the equestrian and Division III hockey teams embark on journeys for national tournaments.

Equestrian is sending three riders to the national qualifier in Ohio, while D3 hockey was in Boston playing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Men’s D3 National Tournament.

Sports and recreation program coordinator Kyle Reece discussed the success of the teams.

“These two clubs — that require a ton of time, effort, money and commitment, on top of it all being full time students — getting to the level of achievement that they have is something I could not be more proud of,” Reece said.

“These two clubs have a lot of expenses and most of it is self-funded, so the fact that these two groups of athletes have achieved as much on ice and in the barn is something we as Rec Well could not be more proud of and getting to see them represent Oakland on a national level is going to be a great experience for them,” he said.

D3 Hockey

The team headed to Boston on March 14 as they prepared for the three-day pool play for a chance at the final four. The tournament featured the top 16 teams in the division. To President Richie Metz, it showed the strength of the program at OU.

“It is a good feeling knowing that day in and day out we have to be competing at the highest level of play to make ourselves known as one of the best teams in the league,” Metz said.

The team is no stranger to the tournament — out of the last nine active seasons, they made it to the tournament eight times, and won it all the 2016-17 season. After having a down year last year, being ranked No. 67, they turned it around and finished at No. 15 with a 14-17-0 record.

Metz emphasized their strong and fast-paced game, as well as overall hard work, as a key part of their success. He also highlighted key players who have had personal standout seasons.

“On the back end holding down the net, our goalies Tate Potteiger, Domenico Munaco, Caleb Godlewski have been very successful at keeping the games low scoring,” Metz said. “On the offense side, we have a lot of scoring coming with points from Jack Abbo, Shane Arbour, Evan Chippa, Matthew Phaneuf and many other players.

OU lost the first game to No. 3 Michigan, 1-4, with forward Abbo picking up the lone goal in the second period. They followed up the next day with a better offensive outing, with three goals from Josh Konczak, Chippa and Logan Rey, but ultimately fell to No. 6 Arkansas 3-5.

OU ended the pool play strong against No. 11 Florida Gulf Coast University with a 4-3 win in overtime. Abbo scored his second of pool play, with Dominic Ruiz and Brendan Danou scoring as well. Sam Palmeter scored the game-winning goal in overtime. 

To get involved for next season, check out the team’s Grizzorgs page or the team’s website.


Three riders will head to zones, which are qualifiers for the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association National Championship, on April 1. The riders — President Lauren LaClair, Laura Senish and Sarah Hohensee — will compete for a chance to make the championship May 4-7 in Lexington.

LaClair will also compete for the Cacchione Cup, where the rider who has the most points from each region — OU is in zone 6, region 4 — competes to represent their region.

“I am super excited to represent Oakland at zones. I’m super excited to be the Cacchione rider for our region,” LaClair said. “Oakland’s never had a Cacchione rider before, so it’s gonna be a new experience for me and my team and my coach.”

The team has had riders make zones before, but this is the biggest year, as three out of a regular eight riders who compete made zones.

“I think it was a very rewarding year for the team, especially being president,” LaClair said. “We did super well, and all of our riders really did super well in their classes.”

The success comes from a team which is smaller than its competitors, where, being a club, the team faces off against varsity teams like Western Michigan — though Oakland was second behind them by only one point.

The first place team for the region qualifies for zones as a team. While it was bittersweet to be so close to qualifying, the support and determination was still there.

“The people that do compete are very dedicated to pay for lessons, to pay for traveling, coaches fees and hotel,” LaClair said. “A lot of the varsity teams will have actual facilities on campus, and a lot of them are equine colleges.

“We’re just as good — I wouldn’t say better, we’re not better than other teams, but we’re more technical,” LaClair said. “We want it more.”

As she approaches graduation after having been on the team for four years, LaClair said it is great to see riders develop, and that the team is like a family.

To get involved, the team’s Instagram is a good place to start, as is checking out their Grizzorgs page.

To follow along with the competition, the team will post updates at the event via Instagram.