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Wrentham’s Cassandra Lorusso taking the reins for Stonehill equestrian team

Wrentham resident Cassandra Lorusso, a junior at Stonehill College, has been competing in equestrian events since age 10. Wrentham resident Cassandra Lorusso, a junior at Stonehill College, has been competing in equestrian events since age 10.
By Lenny Megliola
Globe Correspondent / November 6, 2011

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Cassandra Lorusso began taking riding lessons when she was 7. One day, the Wrentham resident was thrown by the horse.

“Something spooked him,’’ she recalled. “I was scared. But it was pretty cool too. I’ve fallen off more times than I can count.’’

She has broken her right arm twice, at ages 12 and 13; when she was 10, and again at 12, she broke her right leg.

“I’ve rode with broken bones a lot,’’ said Lorusso, a junior at Stonehill College in Easton. “I’ve had a horse fall on me at a camp in Western Mass.’’

It just made her more determined, she said, because “riding is pretty much my life.’’

She did have to make one concession for the broken arms, adjusting her riding style and saddle.

“I took a break from English and took up Western because I could ride with just one hand,’’ she said.

Competing for Stonehill’s equestrian team, Lorusso won three blue ribbons last weekend at two competitions, one a Boston University show held in Hanover, the second a home event.

“My goal is to make it to the Olympics,’’ she said.

Her interest in horses began when she was around 6 or 7 and the family vacationed in Falmouth. A horse farm was nearby.

“We’d drive by the farm every day and I’d say to my mother, ‘I want to ride horses! I want to ride horse!’ ’’

Her mother, Leslie, signed up Cassandra and her older sister, Allie, for lessons. Leslie took lessons too.

“I’m the only one still at it,’’ said Lorusso. “Horses are beautiful, interesting animals. They provide the challenge I wanted.’’

Lorusso started competing in small shows when she was 10. When she was in the eighth grade at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, she met trainer Paul Valliere, who boarded horses in Plainville.

“He rocketed my riding career,’’ she said. “He gave me the confidence I needed. He helped me find my first horse, Nathan. I tried to ride every day. I still do. I kept Nathan at our house so I could ride him even more.’’

The horse was also stabled at Valliere’s farm a few miles away.

In 10th grade, in need of a faster horse able to compete as a jumper and clear 3 feet, Lorusso sold Nathan and bought Calypso, which she describes as “really an awesome horse.’’

Last year, Lorusso finished second on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in the low-adult division.

Even though she has the reins, the horse is clearly the boss, Lorusso said. Calypso understands her mood swings.

“He knows just how you’re feeling,’’ she said. “If I’m riding him and I’m in a bad mood, he knows. He’ll tell me in a certain way. He’ll make it difficult for me to ride.’’

She is also working with a new horse, Addie, prepping her for higher jumps.

Lorusso captained the equestrian team her last two years at Dana Hall.

Williams captures equestrian laurels

Hopkinton’s Miranda Williams is also making an impact on the equestrian team at Stonehill, taking first in intermediate fences at the team’s home competition last weekend, and a first in an event at Mount Ida College in Newton.

Growing up, the sophomore Williams said, “I’d done gymnastics and dancing. But a friend had been riding at the Carriage Hill camp in Hopkinton. I went with her. It was amazing just being on a horse. Nothing compared to riding.’’ She put the dancing shoes away.

Williams has competed in New England and New York. In 2008 she finished third in the country in a jumping competition for younger riders. She’s also competed in dressage on a horse named Solitaire.

“He didn’t know anything about it,’’ she said. “I taught him.’’

Williams, who is studying to be a doctor, said she would also like to train horses after college.

Burnstein wins UAA title second time

Brookline High grad Michael Burnstein, a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, defended his University Athletic Association men’s individual cross-country title in Chicago, completing the 8,000-meter course in 25:29.80, a winning margin of more than 11 seconds.

He attended Trinity College in Hartford for a year before transferring to Washington.

“I had a few friends from high school who went there and liked it,’’ he said. “They also had a good cross-country program.’’

Burnstein started running as a freshman at Brookline High.

“It was just to get in shape because I was going out for the basketball team,’’ he said. “But I just fell in love with running.’’

Burnstein dropped basketball, but his track career got off to a slow start when he broke his leg at the end of his freshman year.

As a sophomore he cut his 2-mile time from 11:10 to 9:55. As a senior, in 2007, Burnstein placed second overall at Gardner Municipal Country Club to lead Brookline to the all-state title.

“I try not to psyche myself out,’’ Burnstein said in describing how he prepares for a meet. “I’ve done the training. I’m ready. I’m an avid competitor.’’

This month will be busy. He will compete at the Midwest regional in Iowa and the nationals in Wisconsin.

Preparing for life after college, Burnstein has started a running apparel company called Janji, which means “promise’’ in Malay.

“We hope to have three stores in St. Louis by next year,’’ he said.

Lacrosse clinics today in Brookline

Brookline Youth Lacrosse is hosting the first of its three fall clinics for new and returning players, open to boys and girls in grades 1 through 8, today at Downes Field, 50 Highland Ave.

The clinics, to be held the next two Sundays as well, are one-hour sessions led by veteran coaches with assistance from Brookline High players.

Equipment will be available for those who do not have their own, and the clinics are free.

For age-group times and to RSVP, go to www.brooklineyouthlacrosse.org.

Lenny Megliola can be reached at lennymegs@aol.com.


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