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For Immediate Release: May 27, 2014
Contact: Julie Bonette 856-287-6566
Pinelands Alum Wins National Equestrian Award
Alison Ceresani (Pinelands ’10) Named NCEA Elite Equestrian Student-Athlete
Columbia, SC – Pinelands Regional High School alumna Alison Ceresani wasn’t horsing around at this year’s National Collegiate Equestrian Association Championships in Waco, TX. As a result of her superior performance at the competition, she became the Elite Equestrian Student-Athlete of the Year, a prestigious honor that also takes into account her grade point average (GPA) at the University of South Carolina, where she is a senior.
“This is the sport’s biggest individual honor of the year, and we are all thrilled for Ali to be this year’s Elite Equestrian Student-Athlete,” said South Carolina head coach Boo Major. “Ali was the captain of our western team this year, and her leadership was very important for the team. We’re proud that Ali is leaving us as a two-time SEC Champion and we’re going to miss her.”
Judges voted on nominations from coaches, considering the athletes’ team contribution in the arena as well as academic success. The award is given to an athlete whose collegiate team places in the top four spots at the national competition. As team co-captain, Ceresani led the South Carolina Gamecocks to second place and has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout her college career.
“It’s been a challenge just staying on top of everything, but when you love something and enjoy something as much as I enjoy competing for my team, you make time to make it work,” said Ceresani.
Ceresani started riding horses for fun when she was six years old, but says by age 11 she started to become more competitive. She attends the University of South Carolina on a partial scholarship. Even though Pinelands Regional High School had no equestrian team, Ceresani still credits the staff, in particular Principal Thomas Normile, for accommodating her.
“As I was competing in high school to get recognized, Mr. Normile was so understanding. He was just really awesome because he was so understanding of everything. He really wants the best for all the students at the school and he wants everyone to be successful in every area that they can,” said Ceresani. “Without the staff at Pinelands, without him and all the amazing teachers, I would not have been the person I am now. I’m proud to be a Wildcat!”
“Ali was one of the first students I met when I arrived at Pinelands five years ago. I knew right away that she was a special person,” said Normile. “Ali was the class president, if my memory serves me, and through her leadership and her entire class’ desire to make positive changes at Pinelands, many of the things we do today are rooted in that class and Ali’s ability to work for her classmates.”
Ceresani plans to attend physical therapy school to earn her doctorate in January, after her wedding in December.