A year ago, Klentner Ranch fell one step short of taking the main trophy of the West Coat: The Silver Air Pacific Coast Open Final. However, after an incredible double-overtime filled with thrills, Farmers & Merchants Bank took the title, leaving Justin Klentner and his team empty-handed.
Things didn't look great when, in the semifinal, the patron and back of the team took a hit during the close 7-6 victory over Sol de Agosto, having to leave the field injured and being replaced by his son Luke (who was playing the USPA NYTS in Colorado), who joined Remy Du Celliee Muller, Mariano Obregón and Jesse Bray. Waiting for them in the final was Lucchese (John Muse, Carlos Ulloa, Facundo Obregón and Jeff Hall), which had already won the previous match between both teams in the first preliminary stage match by 10-8, on Friday, August 16.
The final match, played on Sunday, September 2nd, had Klentner Ranch keeping their formation and closing their first half with a slight lead (4-3). They kept that difference until the final chukker, when Mariano Obregon scored a Penalty 2 that gave them a very well deserved 8-6 victory, and earning the team a ring designed by Tara Grey Jewelers, very similar to the NFL's championship ring.
Remy Du Celliee Muller was the Most Valuable Player, while Jesse Bray's mare Venice won the Best Playing Pony blanket.
A winner on and off the field
At the end of June, when Klentner Ranch won the USPA Intra Circuit (the tournament that closed the 12 goal season at Santa Barbara Polo Club), CLICKPOLOUSA spoke with Justin Klentner, patron and back of the team and a true fighter, who founded his team six years ago under the motto: "I love the tradition of family and polo. I am trying to lay the foundation for a future of Klentner Ranch polo."
His strong spirit allowed Klentner to take a step back in a situation that would've been impossible to overcome for most: he had to watch the final of the 2018 Silver Air Pacific Coast Open (the most important 16 Goal tournament at the SBPRC) from the sidelines because of a broken bone in his right hand, which he suffered during the semifinal. “I couldn’t hold a cup, much less a mallet. But it was great being there even though I wasn’t on the field,” he said
“My team won. My son played in my place and won. As I told you, it’s all about the family.”
-Considering last year's loss, was this victory special?
“That time it was double overtime. Most people say it was the best PCO ever. So to come out on the short end of that was difficult. But this time we did it.”
-I guess you enjoyed it twice as much...
“We did. Absolutely.”
"Here is the future of American Polo"
Klentner didn't only feel proud about seeing his son Jake on the field, but also because his team had a remarkable combination of youth and talent. He himself had seen it coming, when he announced that he dreams of playing the U.S. Open 2020 with his eldest son.
“After last year, we needed to win this. My hope is that we win it the next 10 years in a row, but after last year’s double overtime, we needed to win it this year. We are looking for the future of American Polo, and here it is! We had three Team USPA players on our team, Remy, Jesse and Jake. That’s the whole idea and proof that it is helping. NYTS is helping, the USPA is helping, the kids are getting better and they are contributing. I couldn’t be prouder of the whole organization and our organization,” he said after the award ceremony.
-When it was all over, how did you celebrate the victory?
"We made an asado at our barn cooked by Gerónimo Obregón, who is a true 10 goals on the bbq. We celebrate as a family."