Marc My Words: Teen equestrienne Kayla Koval to make national debut

Pat Kivlehan now playing pro ball at Triple A


Kayla Koval, a freshman at Tappan Zee High School, is taking the national stage.

Koval — who was introduced to horseback riding as a 7-year-old by her father, Joseph, and whose brother, Joseph III, is a part-time member of the Rockland County Mounted Patrol Unit — has qualified for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) Hunt Seat national finals at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The competition is scheduled April 24-25.

“She rode her first horse in New City at (now defunct) Diamond Derby,” said her dad, who will be leading a family contingent to the Sunshine State to support Kayla’s first national competition.

Kayla first formal lesson was given by the daughter of Bob Shields, who was in the forefront of forming the mounted unit.

“She took to it from the start; she loved it. We went every Wednesday for a lesson,” continued her dad.

The young rider later shifted to Silver Rock Farms in Pearl River, under lead instructor Laura Mason, where her passion for the sport intensified and where she shifted from Western saddle to English..

Kayla now rides with the IEA team at Top of The Line Stables in Chestnut Ridge, under the mentorship of Randi Cashman, but she also trains there with Diane Ward.

The Koval traveling party to Florida is expected to include Joe’s fiancée, Krissie, her twin daughters Kaitlyn and Courtney, who are students at North Rockland HS, and Kayla’s mom, Diane,

“Kaitlyn and Courtney are actually giving up the senior prom to be there for their stepsister,” said Joseph the Elder, understandably proud. “They have gone to numerous shows and competitions. They’ll be there, absolutely.”

The Koval group will depart on April 22. On April 23, Kayla and others competitors will take part in something known as “schooling.” This is a day set aside prior to IEA competitions in which riders have an opportunity to see the horses they might be riding, to see how they react, check their pace and gait, etc., but are not permitted to ride any of them. Each rider’s horse will be decided by a lottery draw.

“It’s quite a challenge, always an unfamiliar horse, but everyone is in the same position,” offers dad.

Kayla, who hopes and expects to compete at the collegiate level, also volunteers her time for the therapeutic riding program at Silver Rock Farms and hopes to be a camp counselor there this summer.

She’ll be going to nationals, by the way, as an honorary mounted officer, an honor bestowed by her brother by surprise just this week during the annual remount training course he conducts for police forces in the area and some northern counties.

NOT STANDING PAT: He was hopeful of hitting the long shot and making the 25-man big-league roster coming out of spring training, but Patrick Kivlehan of West Nyack is proving once again that every time he moves up in competition he meets the challenge. Kivlehan, the No. 3 prospect in the Seattle Mariners system, has two homers, four RBI with five runs and a .294 batting average through his first four games with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. Kivlehan combined to hit .295 across time with Advanced-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson last year. His 103 total RBI ranked seventh among all MiLB players in 2014, earning him the Mariners Unsung Hero Award.

GREAT GREIG: Clarkstown South alum Bryan Greig of New City went the nine-inning distance and improved to 3-3 with a nine-strikeout effort as the Mercy College baseball team defeated Post, 4-1, to salvage the second game of a doubleheader. Grieg, a right-hander who continues to excel and made the East Coast Conference weekly honor roll, allowed just two hits while walking three. The Mavericks, who trailed early in the second game, took the lead in the sixth inning as senior Sal Palumbo of Medford, Scott Hagan of Mamaroneck and Justin Palladino of Yonkers singled in succession for a run. Mercy visits Dowling for single games on April 17 and April 18 before returning to Dobbs Ferry on April 19 for a doubleheader at noon.

BOULDERS DASH: Continuing a special connection to the community, the Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League are partnering with United Way of Rockland for the 3rd annual Boulders Dash 5k run-walk on June 20. The event is open to all and will start at 8:30 a.m. at Provident Bank Park in Pomona. Registration is $20 in advance of race day and $25 at the ballpark. It includes one (1) T-shirt and one (1) ticket to that day’s game when the Boulders welcome the Shikoku Island League all-stars at 6:309 p.m., with fireworks to follow the game. Access: (The Boulders, the defending league champion, open defense of the title on May 21 against Trois-Rivieres.)

QUICK HITTERS: Sophomore midfielder Peter Sharp of Airmont, a Suffern HS alum, scored his 12th goal of the season and junior captain Matt Cossidente of Port Jefferson Station had five points as the Pace University men’s lacrosse team bowed to Assumption, 13-11, in Worcester, Mass. … Nyack High School graduate Anthony Accardi of Valley Cottage scored his first goal of the season as the Mercy College men’s lacrosse team (9-2) moved another step closer to its first-ever berth in the East Coast Conference (ECC) playoffs with a 15-11 victory in Dobbs Ferry over No. 9-rated Molloy College. … Senior Tyler Mitts of Nanuet picked up his first save of the season as the New Paltz baseball team outlasted Fredonia, 12-10, to earn a split of a twin-bill in North Collins. Mitts is a graduate of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J.  … The Purchase College women’s lacrosse team is thriving under the stewardship of Coach Francesca Levine of Nyack. The Warriors remained unbeaten at home at 7-0 and lifted their overall mark to 9-1 following a 17-5 victory over the University of Dallas. The Purchase defense corps includes junior Kristen Vitale of Thiells. … At the Stadium Complex in Cortland, the women’s lacrosse team made it 12 wins in 13 tries, pulling away from 10th-ranked Tufts University, 14-8, with junior Tara Monaghan of Stony Point contributing two goals and one assist. Junior Ashley Gentile of Baldwinsville led the 5th-ranked Cortland offense with four goals. … Junior Nick Kulbaba of Suffern went 3 for 3 with two RBI and a run scored as the Purchase College baseball team lost to red-hot St. Joseph’s College-LI, 7-5, in the first game of a doubleheader. Pace also dropped the second game, 5-3. … Sophomore Phil Lucien of Garnerville was seventh in the shot put at 42 feet 3 inches and ninth in the discus at 121-1 as the Cortland track and field team competed at the Nazareth Roc City Classic. … The Dominican College softball team posted an 11-5 victory over Philadelphia University to earn a split in Philadelphia, Pa. The Rams won the opener, 5-1. Junior catcher Shannon Haukap of Edmonds, Wash., leads the Lady Chargers in batting at .286 while freshman shortstop Jillian Regan of Staten Island and sophomore outfielder Elontay Collins of San Diego each have three homers. Dominican is home on April 18, hosting Holy Family University in a noon twin-bill. … Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) pitcher of the week, Peter Martinez of White Plains got the win in eight innings of work, and Andrew Morano of Clintondale pitched the ninth for a save as the Dominican College baseball team earned a split against Chestnut Hill (Pa.) College at Provident Bank Park in Pomona. The Chargers return to the Pomona on April 17 for a doubleheader at 1 p.m. against Concordia College of Bronxville

THIS & THAT: The Tri-State Bulldogs, an organization operated by Frank Williams and which offers players the only minor-league football experience in the area, is holding practice and registration on April 18 at 10 a.m. at the Joseph T. St. Lawrence Sports Complex in Hillburn. … The running community, which is often front in support of charitable causes, can point to the Lt. John Bellew Memorial 5k run in Pearl River on April 18, the the 11th 5k Run/ Walk and Family Fair in Piermont on April 25, sponsored by the Dennis P. McHugh Foundation. The Pearl River event at the Volunteer Fire House on Central Avenue begins at 10 a.m. with a kids race, followed by the adult run at 11 a.m.  The Piermont event at Flywheel Park starts at 9:30 a.m. with the 5k run/walk, followed by the peewee run and the family fair from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

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