BIG HORN — KC Krueger wasn’t penciled in to play Sunday during the Flying H Polo’s ninth annual Goose Creek Cup. She’s not even a full-time player in Flying H Polo, only filling in for her father when he doesn’t want to play.
But in order to make the rosters match, in regards to handicap, Krueger replaced her husband, Steve Krueger, in the 21-goal game. And the Houston native enjoyed every second of her opportunity.
“I’m like playing on a cloud,” KC Krueger said. “… I’m super thankful, and I’m very appreciative.”
Krueger also basked in the euphoria of victory as the Coca-Cola team rallied in the final seconds to top the Bud Light team 6-5.
Krueger started playing polo when she turned 15, learning the sport alongside her mother. Krueger competes during the spring and fall in her home state of Texas, travels to Florida in the winter to watch her husband play and has taken part in Flying H Polo for a few years.
Wyoming’s small-town demeanor has left a strong impression on the big-city resident.
“[Wyoming and Flying H Polo are] very special,” Krueger said. “First of all, the weather is amazing. The level is awesome, and it’s just really fun and competitive, but it’s not so competitive that it hurts. They make it such a great place to play and that makes it so unique.
“And the people are really nice. Everybody in Wyoming is nice. You think Texans are nice, and you come here and it’s like everybody is nice.”
Coca-Cola teammate Julian Je Lusarreta shares a similar sentiment toward Wyoming. The eight-goal player — polo players are rated on handicap system from 1-10 — plays not only all over the country, but all over the world.
This summer marks Lusarreta’s first season with Flying H Polo, and he’s made it notable, claiming one of the club’s most coveted trophies.
“This is an amazing place, and it’s very, very nice,” Lusarreta said. “Everybody is relaxed, and you have a good time here.”
The Goose Creek Cup — sponsored by Downtown Sheridan Association — stands as the highest-rated polo match in North America with its 21-goal handicap format. Sugar Erskine and Michel Dorignac both boast six-goal handicaps to round out the Coca-Cola Team while the Bud Light Team featured Flying H Polo’s highest rated player, Miguel Astrada, who has a nine-goal rating.
Erskine laid claim to Coca-Cola’s final three goals Sunday — the first of those which staked his team to a 4-3 edge midway through the fourth chukka. Bud Light answered with back-to-back scores from Will Johnston, setting the stage for Erskine’s heroics.
Coca-Cola’s standout knotted the game at 5 off a penalty shot with 1:30 to play and erased any need for a sudden-death overtime period on a goal with just nine seconds remaining in the match.
It was a match Erskine, Krueger and all the top polo players featured in the event won’t soon forget.