Amanda Hall

The University of New Hampshire women's gymnastics team narrowly defeated the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights 191.6-190.825 on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats relied on steady performances from a variety of gymnasts in their season-opener. The Wildcats were forced to count four falls in two events, yet were able to scrape out a victory against the conference foe.

Junior Amanda Hall (Bremerton, Wash.) earned a second-place finish in the all-around event with a score of 38.225. Rutgers sophomore Elizabeth Fittery narrowly edged out Hall, earning the first-place title in all around with her score of 38.375. Rutgers senior Nicci Bradder finished third in the event, scoring a 37.925

Starting out the meet on vault, the Wildcats dominated in their first rotation. Sophomore Jennifer Jones (Billerica, Mass.) was the first to compete for the 'Cats, setting the tone with a fourth-place finish and a score of 9.625. Hall claimed the first-place title in the event, scoring a 9.875. Senior Tara Phillips (Houston, Texas) and senior co-captain Vanessa James (Malden, Mass.) rounded out the top three finishes with scores of 9.8 and 9.75, respectively.

Moving on to the second rotation, the 'Cats saw stellar performances on the uneven bars from both veterans and rookie athletes. Hall again claimed the title in the event, scoring a 9.8. Freshman Katelyn Schenkel (Pittsford, N.Y.) stepped up in her first ever collegiate performance, earning a second-place finish with her score of 9.75. James was close behind Schenkel with her own 9.725--good for third place. Freshmen Rebekah Porter (Valparaiso, Ind.) and Beth Bronson (Jacksonville, Fla.) claimed the fifth and sixth finishes with scores of 9.70 and 9.65, respectively.

The Wildcats would need to rely on the early lead they had built over the Scarlet Knights, as they were forced to count three falls on beam. Freshman Christa Tafaro (Jackson, N.J.) was one of two UNH gymnasts able to stay on the beam, walking away with the title in the event. Freshman Zoe Magiros (Parsippany, N.J.) was the 'Cats' next-highest finisher in sixth place with a score of 9.550. After three events, UNH led Rutgers with a score of 143.8-143.125.

Closing the meet on floor exercise, the 'Cats knew they would have to really dig in to hold on to their lead. Hall came through with her top performance of the night, scoring a 9.925 and easily taking home the first-place crown. Porter also put together a solid performance, earning second place with her own 9.8. The 1-2 punch of Hall and Porter was enough to clinch the narrow victory, as the Scarlet Knights also faced some low scores on beam.

The' Cats look to come out stronger as they take on Rhode Island and Yale in Kingston, R.I. on Jan. 16 at 1 p.m. UNH returns to action at home on Jan 22 at 7 p.m. as they face Brigham Young University in the Lundholm Gymnasium.

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