DURHAM, N.H. - The University of New Hampshire women's gymnastics team has signed two outstanding student-athletes for the 2002-03 season, 23rd-year head coach Gail Goodspeed announced Tuesday. Marianna Pena, (Sudbury, Mass.) and Amanda Hall (Bremerton, Wash.) will bring a wealth of talent and experience to UNH, as both women have long histories of excellent competitive experience and a strong desire to help the Wildcat gymnastics program continue to excel.

"We are getting quality athletes who not only possess tremendous talent coming in, but have the personalities and ability to continue to improve, and progress," Goodspeed said. "They are both strong students academically and will definitely help us compete at the highest level on the national collegiate gymnastics scene."

Pena is from Valencia, Venezuela and has been a member of their National Team for many years. She has represented Venezuela in a number of international competitions including the World Championships in China, the Pan Am games, and many other prestigious international meets. She was voted as the Venezuelan Gymnastic Federation's Best Athlete two years in a row. She has competed successfully from Romania to China and has been a standout representative of her country for many years.

Pena has been training in the U.S. for the last two years at American Gymnastics in Ashland Mass., with Mihai and Sylvie Brestyan, two well-known Romanian coaches.

"We are extremely pleased about Marianna," associate head coach Ed Datti said. "She is an exciting, polished athlete who will rank among the very best to ever attend UNH. Marianna is a fireball of energy and talent. She has a large repertoire of skills that will score well in collegiate gymnastics. We are really looking forward to working with such an outstanding talent."

Hall has trained with the Grace Gymnastics School in Lakewood, Wash., under Brian Muenz. She has been to the level 10 National Championships four times and has a great deal of competitive experience. She is a four-time State Vault champion and has won the regional vault title three times. Hall has also placed first on bars, beam and floor at the regional championships. She also placed as high as third on vault at the national championship. Hall has also competed internationally in Mexico and in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

"Amanda is a mature, dedicated athlete who has a great ability to set her goals and do what it takes to reach them," assistant coach Beth Aparo said. "She is already doing a very high level of gymnastics that will help us reach our team goals. Amanda will be a great role model for her team and as a student-athlete representing the University of New Hampshire."

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