UNH gymnasts poised under pressure to defeat NC State

DURHAM, N.H. -- The University of New Hampshire women's gymnastic team defeated North Carolina State, the top team in the East Atlantic Gymnastic League, by a score of 195.900 to 195.450 on Saturday night at Lundholm Gymnasium. The Wildcats also set two school records. The team score of 195.900 breaks a record that was set in 1997 versus Central Michigan (195.825), while senior assistant captain Jen Dickson (Salisbury, Md.) all-around score of 39.425 not only sets a new personal record, but breaks the school record set by Cara Lepper (39.400) set in 1999.

The Wildcats also had the top two all-around performers as Dickson finished first (39.425). Senior captain Michelle Harley (Collegeville, Pa.) finished second with a 39.200. Sophomore Vanessa James (Malden, Mass.) finished third with a 39.025, while freshman Amanda Hall (Bremerton, Wash.) finished fourth (39.000).

New Hampshire was on vault for the first rotation, where freshman Bethany Stork (New Milford, Conn.) started the 'Cats off with a 9.5 and things only got better from there. Junior Tara Phillips (Springs, Texas) took first place with a 9.850, while Dickson had the team's second highest score with a 9.825. After the first rotation, UNH trailed NC State by two tenths of a point and the Wolf Pack kept it close for the next two rotations.

The 'Cats performed on bars next, keeping the momentum going from their performance on vault. As the first performer, sophomore James put up one of her best scores of the season with a 9.7. The rest of the team put in one of their best performances on bars this season, scoring a 48.950 and trailed NC State by one and half tenths of a point.

Knowing they had to put up solid scores on beam, the Wildcats looked again toward James to get them started and she did with a 9.750. Harley scored a 9.9, tying a season high and personal best, to end beam on a high note. However, after beam UNH still trailed the Wolf Pack by one and half tenths of a point.

New Hampshire ended the meet on floor strongly as all six competitors scored a 9.750 or better. Dickson was the 'Cats highest finisher with a 9.875, while James and junior Brie McNamera (Haymarket, Va.) rounded out the top five with 9.850 and 9.825 respectively. With the strong team performance on floor, UNH edged NC State, who had to count a fall of beam, by a half almost five tenths of a point.

The Wildcats travel to Connecticut to compete against Bridgeport next weekend before returning home to take on Towson on March 8th.

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