ANN ARBOR, MICH-- The University of New Hampshire women's gymnastics team placed fifth out of a an impressive field of six teams at the NCAA Northeastern Regionals at Crisler Arena on the campus of the University of Michigan. The squad finished with a total team score of 195.40, which breaks UNH's record for highest regional score.
Michigan won the meet with a 196.825 edging out Arizona State which finished with a score of 196.275. Both advance to the NCAA National Championships on April 24-25 at the University of Nebraska. Iowa State took third place with a score of 196.525, followed by Penn State (196.175), New Hampshire (195.40) and Pittsburgh (194.5).
The Wildcats opened the first rotation on beam and hit on four of six events, after suffering a pair of falls. With only one of the falls counting in the event score, the Wildcats posted a team score of 48.350, but had already put themselves into somewhat of a hole. The highlight of the first event for the 'Cats was the performance of sophomore event specialist Jayne Propert (Bradley Beach, N.J), who led the Wildcats with a judgement of 9.80. Freshman all-arounder Amanda Hall (Bremerton, Wash.) opened strong on the night with a 9.75 on the beam. UNH's season best on beam was a 49.325.
Following a second rotation bye, UNH headed over to perform floor routines, looking to make up for any lost ground on beam. The Wildcat's top score on the year was a 49.1 and the squad was hoping to match or break that mark to get back on track. The 'Cats did just that as they nailed all six routines to bounce back into the competition with a team total of- 49.15, good for a season- best at UNH.. Leading the 'Cats in the event was junior all-arounder Jen Dickson (Salisbury, Md.), who posted a team-best mark of 9.9 as UNH's sixth performer and senior all-arounder Michelle Harley (Collegeville, Pa.) with an identical 9.9 mark.
The Wildcats were just barely in fifth place after two events completed by all six teams. The standings halfway through were Michigan 98.5, Arizona State 98.4, Iowa State 97.6, Penn State 97.6, UNH 97.5 and Pittsburgh 96.7.
Having improved its standing in the team competition with a record-breaking floor effort, the pressure was once again on the Wildcats to score very high, this time on vault, where the team has performed well as of late. UNH responded positively to the pressure, recording a 48.825, but it was not enough to catch the frontrunners. Hall, who led the Wildcats with a mark of 9.9 for second overall, was the top overall finisher for UNH in any event. Junior event specialist Tara Phillips (Spring, Texas) also vaulted well with a score of 9.8 for the 'Cats.
UNH received a bye in the next rotation and as they did the top two teams, Michigan and Arizona State, had pulled away from the field. The Wildcats were basically battling to finish as high as possible among the non-qualifying teams at this point in the meet and to do that the team needed to hit on bars.
In the final rotation of the evening, UNH moved to bars where its final standing in the Northeast Regional would be determinded. UNH basically remained in fifth even though four teams were still competing and was looking to catch Iowa State (146.950) and Penn State (147.050) through three events. UNH had a three-event total of 146.325). Pittsburgh finished the meet with a 194.5 at that point in the meet.The Wildcats finished on a strong note with a team total on bars with a 45.075, which ties our season best. UNH's top performer on bars was Mariana Pena-Trestini (Venezuela) with a 9.875, just .025 off the top score to place fifth.
In the all-around, Dickson led UNH with a 39.3 just shy of the 39.4 needed to make it as an individual to the National Championships.
"We had to play catch up right after the first event after having to count one fall," said Goodspeed. "We were right up to par with some of the top teams in the country. "Starting on beam is a tough place to start in any meet. Amanda Hall had a tremendous night for us and just missed qualifying for nationals on vaulting as an individual. The team has had a great year and it is tough to end like this when you know you had a shot to make it, although I'm proud of everything they accomplished. It is much better watching nationals from the floor than sitting in the stands. We wil luse this as incentive for next year as we have an even stronger team returning.