Polo Players Edition

JUL 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

Issue link: https://polo.epubxp.com/i/996749

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Page 32 of 67

POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 31 Kelly Wells has pulled off an incredible triple in 2018: Her Maryland teams won both the Open and Girls' Interscholastic Championships; and her daughter, Marissa, won the Women's Intercollegiate Championship with Texas A&M. With Jack McLean and her son, Brennan Wells, having graduated, her Open team may have a hard time defending its title, but she will have an excellent shot at having a hand in three out of four again next year, and an outside shot at an unprecedented "Grand Slam." Kelly's championship teams took their respective titles in convincing fashion, with the girls winning their final 26-4 and the boys taking the Open title 20-11. The latter was not as close as the final score might indicate, as Maryland led 15- 4 at the third chukker walk break and 17- 5 at the start of the fourth before taking their foot off the accelerator just a bit. The Open team was led by seniors Brennan Wells and Jack McLean, who teamed with junior Parker Pearce for their second title in two years. Brennan and Jack will remain teammates in college, so UVA coach Lou Lopez is looking forward to the coming season with great optimism. Considering that the Maryland high school team beat Cornell's and UVA's men's teams, both of which won their regionals and qualified for the National Intercollegiate Tournament, one has to assume Brennan and Jack are ready for college-level competition. Similarly, the Maryland girls' teams defeated several college teams as part of its preparation for the national interscholastic tournament. In fact, Wells took Brennan and the Reynolds sisters (both interscholastic players) to give the Texas A&M women's team a prep game before nationals. "We assisted in preparing [the Texas A&M women's team] for NIC," Wells said. "I have been to all of Marissa's college nationals. [I] even drove a string of Maryland horses for the college nationals at UCONN in 2016. I thought the girls' winning margin of 22 goals had to be a record for a final, but then I noticed that Maryland had won the 2014 Girls' Championship 38-8. That was Marissa's junior year in high school, and they defended their title in 2015 by a somewhat closer score of 22-7. The former was played at UCONN, and the latter at Empire Polo Club, so the size of the arena probably affected the overall goal totals. Remarkably, Marissa's teammates in 2014 were all middle schoolers, none older than eighth grade. The Grant sisters, Maddie, Abbie, and Sophie, will almost certainly hold the record for interscholastic championships within one family, having collected 10 among them already and with only Maddie having graduated. Marissa's Texas A&M team was similarly dominant this year, racing out to a 7-0 lead in the second chukker and cruising to a 14-4 victory. Marissa scored 11 of A&M's goals. With Marissa on the team, A&M has made the final three years in a row, losing by two goals to Cornell in 2016 and UVA in 2017. Kelly grew up around polo in upstate New York, with her father and uncles being legends in arena polo and the horse business. Her father, Dale Chambers, and Uncle Mike both achieved 5-goal handicaps indoors, with Uncle John MIKE RYAN Kelly has a deep passion for her horses, and works tirelessly caring for them. She cried tears of happiness when her Marlan Farm ponies won Best String in the Open National Interscholastic Championship and her mare, June won Best Playing Pony. This photo captured six of them.

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