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Mother Nature smiles on Pacers & Polo as Aiken Triple Crown ends

April 2, 2017 GMT

USC Aiken Chancellor Sandra Jordan couldn’t have been happier with the weather for the 14th edition of Pacers & Polo on Saturday at Powderhouse Polo Field.

The sun shone brightly, the blue sky was cloudless and the high temperature was in the low 80s.

“It’s such a beautiful day,” Jordan said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we have one of our largest crowds in recent history. Another reason is that this is such a fun event. So many people have come up to me and told me, ‘I came last year and I loved it, so now I’ve brought my whole family and my neighbors with me.’”

Pacers & Polo is the third leg of the Aiken Triple Crown, which started this year on March 18 with the 75th Aiken Trials and continued on March 25 with the 51st Aiken Spring Steeplechase.

Proceeds from Pacers & Polo are used to help fund scholarships for student athletes at USC Aiken.

“It’s hard to stay competitive in the area of scholarships for athletes, and we’re always looking for ways to raise more money,” Jordan said. “We are just so grateful that we have community event like this that provides support for us.”

Greg Ryberg, a former South Carolina state senator, and his wife, Betty, were among the many people who joined Jordan in the huge white VIP Tent.

Others gathered in reserved spots on the sidelines of the field to enjoy tailgate-style lunches with fried chicken, macaroni salad, potato salad, ham biscuits and other hearty fare.

In the polo match, which provided the main entertainment, Alison South Marketing Group defeated Burger King 12-7.

Chilo Cordova scored 7 goals for the winning team, and was honored as the game’s most valuable player. Kegan Walsh was Burger King’s leading scorer with 4 goals.

Sandy Wohlers and Scott Urban were the hosts for their coed book club, which decided to come as a group to Pacers & Polo after reading “Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen” and meeting the authors, Adam Snow and his wife, Shelley Onderdonk, who is a veterinarian.

Snow was a member of the Alison South team and scored 3 goals.

“They are such a special couple and very charming,” said Wohlers of Snow and Onderdonk. “They love horses, they love educating youngsters about horses and they love the Aiken community. We told them we would come today and cheer on Adam. He is such a great player.”

Nearby, in another reserved parking place, was Angela Hale, whose husband, Alan, was on the Burger King team.

“You hear about how this is such a relaxed and fun event because it’s for charity, but I think the players are really getting into it a lot out there on the field,” Angela said.

Angela plays polo, and so does the Hales’ 13-year-old daughter, Anna.

“We love the relationship with the horses and being able to work with them,” Angela said. “There is a very unique partnership that is unlike anything else. I grew up riding, but my husband didn’t get on a horse until he was 40-some-years-old. He fell in love with polo, and he gets so much pleasure out of it that I enjoy watching him play.”

Bonnie Szymik and her husband, Greg, and Norma Campbell and her husband, Ron, had three reserved spots side-by-side and three tents for the 40 or so people they invited to join them at Pacers & Polo.

Bonnie and Norma said they look forward to the event every year. Norma has been to all 14 editions of Pacers & Polo, and Bonnie has only missed one.

“I like it because there is always something going on; there aren’t a lot of delays,” Bonnie said.

Norma expressed a similar opinion.

“It’s constant action,” she said. “I also like it because you can see everything. At the Spring Steeplechase, where we are is near a jump, and the only thing that we can see is when the horses come over that jump.”