Amanda Hall

PISCATAWAY, N.J.-The University of New Hampshire women's gymnastics team opened the 2006 campaign at Rutgers University on Saturday afternoon, but could not overcome four falls on beam in a narrow 189.250-189.225 loss to the Scarlet Knights.

The Wildcats, which were not at full strength due to nagging injuries to junior Mariana Pena Trestini (Valencia, Venezuela) and sophomore Rebekah Porter (Valparaiso, Ind.), still managed to top Rutgers in three of the four events, but it was on beam where the meet was lost as the home team topped the Wildcats 48.075-45.900.

UNH went on to defeat Rutgers on vault (48.075-47.125), on bars (48.050-46.9) and in the floor exercise (47.2-47.15).

"We only hit one set on beam, so obviously that is what we will be working on this week in practice, said 27th-year head coach Gail Goodspeed. "We also self-destructed on floor. We are a better team than we showed today. We missed having a healthy Mariana and Rebekah, but we are expecting Mariana to be back in the all-around for our home-opener next week."

Despite the loss, several Wildcat gymnasts posted strong performances and UNH also enjoyed several top-four overall placements.

Senior all-arounder Amanda Hall (Bremerton, Wash.) won the all-around competition with a high-score of 38.725. as she edged out three Rutgers competitors for the honor.

Hall also took first-place honors in every event except beam, with scores of 9.8 in the floor exercise, 9.775 on bars and her best score of the day on vault, a 9.875.

Goodspeed was especially happy with UNH's effort on vault, where her team took the top four overall spots. In addition to Hall's first-place finish, freshman Justine Turner (Salem, N.H.) placed second with a 9.70, junior Jennifer Jones (Billerica, Mass.) was third (9.65) and junior Heather Moore (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) was fourth with a mark of 9.575.

The coaching staff was also pleased with the Wildcat performance on the uneven bars as UNH grabbed the top three finishes in the meet. Hall led the way, followed by Pena Trestini in second place (9.70) and Porter in third (9.675).

UNH was led in the floor exercise by Hall and freshman Lindsay Kovary (Huntington Station, N.Y.),who earned fourth-place honors with a score of 9.5.

Jones was the lone UNH gymnast to stay on beam as she led the team with a 9.625 for fifth place in the meet.

The Wildcats will look to bounce back on Sun., Jan. 15 when the squad entertains Rhode Island. The meet is scheduled to being at 1 p.m. in Lundholm Gymnasium.

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