Sequim youth finishes eighth in USPC competition

Fourteen-year-old Jessica DeFilippo has a new sense of faith in the community.

Because of Sequim families, individuals and businesses, the soon-to-be Sequim High School student was able to travel to Lexington, Va., and compete in the United States Pony Club national championships July 24-27.

A public cry for help in the Sequim Gazette in early July helped DeFilippo raise $1,400 in donations to help pay travel expenses so she could compete in the "quiz" portion of the national championships. As team captain, DeFilippo led her teammates - pony clubbers much like herself from Enumclaw and Bellevue - through the three-day, three-phase competition. The trio finished fifth in the Northwest division, closing a 100-point gap to only 13.5 points.

Individually, DeFilippo placed eighth out of 16 competitors in the junior "C" quiz division.

"Thank you for helping me out," DeFilippo said to the community members who donated funds. "It was a dream come true for me."

Quiz consists of a "barn" portion testing each team's hands-on ability to identify horse-related illnesses, put together a bridle and perform other tasks as a group; a "classroom" phase where teams answer questions aloud; and a "media" category putting individuals on the spot, requiring each student to answer horse-related questions on paper without any help from teammates.

"It was a lot of fun to meet and compete with people from all over the nation who enjoy doing the same things I love doing," DeFilippo said in retrospect. "It wasn't even like a competition, it was more like meeting and making new friends."

DeFilippo did more than come home with a T-shirt and pink ribbon. The horse-crazy teen met all of the personal goals she set for herself before traveling to the 600-acre Virginia horse center, which included not missing any questions in the classroom portion of the competition and showing improvement in the written phase; learning how to express herself effectively and confidently when speaking to adults; and learning the basics of polocrosse, a combination of polo and lacrosse, which she brought home and introduced to fellow Ranahan Pony Club members.

"It was a great experience," DeFilippo concluded. "I look forward to seeing the people I met and friends I made again (in the future)."

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