Ava Stearns, an accomplished equestrian from Chilmark, finished her collegiate career last Thursday. As a member of Auburn University’s team, she squared off against Oklahoma State in the National Collegiate Equestrian Association championship quarterfinals.

“It was definitely tight. They were very, very good,” Ms. Stearns said in a recent phone interview. “It’s always fun to get to compete with people who are also great.”

SEC champs - Ava Strearns seated far right.

While Auburn lost to Oklahoma State, Ms. Stearns won one of her two events. She earned a score of 87.67 out of 100 in fences against Sydney North. Ms. Stearns was close in her second event, flat, with a score of 82.33 against the 84.67 score earned by Hannah Dodd.

“I’m very grateful,” said Ms. Stearns. “We had five years of great competition. Obviously, this weekend didn’t go as planned, but the team has a lot of great stuff ahead of them. I’m excited to see them continue this legacy in the future.”

The national tournament marks the end of her collegiate equestrian career. Ms. Stearns said she currently has no plans to go professional, but knows that horse riding will always be important to her. Her parents are Bret Stearns and Sarah Doyle, who has long been an important part of the Vineyard’s equestrian scene.

“I don’t know exactly what it will look like...but it’s something my parents are involved in, and it’s something that will always be a part of my life.”