The 2007 University of New Hampshire women’s gymnastics team is planning on “Steppin’ It Up” this year. The 2006 team qualified to the NCAA Regional meet for the 25th consecutive time and competed in this prestigious post-season competition. It is a goal of the 2007 team to qualify once again to the NCAA Regional meet and advance from there to the National Championship, a feat last achieved in 1994. This year’s Championship is hosted by the University of Utah and it would be a fitting accomplishment for the UNH team to qualify as this was the site of the last championship UNH attended as a full squad.

    Last year's senior captain, Amanda Hall, competed at Oregon State University on April 20th, 2006 as the 7th individual to represent UNH at the NCAA Championship. This accomplishment was achieved by her tremendous performance in the all-around at the NCAA Regional meet where she placed third with a 39.25 and also scored a 9.9 on floor exercise, crowning her Northeast Regional Floor Champion. She was the top all-around finisher from a team that did not advance and was invited to compete as an individual all-arounder at the Championship. Hall was honored as a recipient of the 2006 Jim Urquhart Student Athlete of the Year at the University of New Hampshire. The award is bestowed annually upon a female and a male UNH senior student-athlete who excel both in athletic competition and the classroom, as well as possessing great character, sportsmanship, and a passion for sports.

    The team had a number of challenges in 2006 and ended the season with a winning record of 16-11. Claiming the crown at the UNH-Fox Run Invitational by defeating Minnesota, Yale, and Temple was a highlight of the home schedule. Another season highlight was the team performance at the EAGL Conference Championship where all six competitors nailed their beam routines and finished as the top team on that event. UNH finished fourth in this highly competitive league which includes the Big East schools of Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and West Virginia, the ACC schools of North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Maryland as well as George Washington from the Atlantic 10 and New Hampshire from the America East Conference.

    Individual achievements at the EAGL championship include the performance of Mariana Peña Trestini who earned the 2006 EAGL Beam title and finished third in the all-around. Hall was second on vaulting  and uneven bars and concluded her EAGL career with a sixth place finish in the all-around. Freshman Justine Turner had an impressive debut with a 9.85 on vaulting to place fifth on that event. Individuals were selected to the first or second team all conference by the EAGL coaches for their performances throughout the season. Hall was named first team in the all-around, vault, and floor and second team on bars and beam. Peña Trestini was selected first team on bars and beam and second team on floor. Jen Jones was selected as second team on vaulting. Five individual gymnasts were also selected to the EAGL All-Academic team: Amanda Hall, Lindsay Kovary, Zoë Magiros, Heather Moore, and Rebekah Porter. Hall, Kovary and Porter also earned 2006 NACGC/W Academic All-American status.

“Steppin’ It Up” for the Wildcats in 2007 will be the talented and experienced senior class of Jennifer Jones (Billerica, Mass.), Jaime deMello (Milton, Mass.), and Heather Moore (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.).  As this year’s team captain, Jones returned from the summer in excellent shape, ready to motivate her teammates as they seek to improve on a 4th place finish at the 2006 Northeast Regional Championship.  Jones should make an immediate impact on the UNH line-up, with potential to be a top performer in both vault and beam.  Assistant captain deMello looks to make significant contributions on both bars and beam.  Her outstanding execution and classic style should continue to bring in big scores.  Rounding out the senior class is Moore, who trained hard all summer with the goal of competing four events.  With the potential to score upwards of 39.375 in the all-around (her career high), Moore will be a key player in this season’s success.

Along with the seniors, the junior class is ready to take the Wildcats to new heights this year.  Five strong and rich with talent, this group brings not only competitive skills but personality and team spirit to the squad.  Beth Bronson (Jacksonville, Fla.) will continue to impact the bar and beam line-ups with her consistency, and is training to break into the vault and floor line-ups as well.  Fairen Plummer (Louisville, Ky.) has the potential to compete on all four events, but will especially shine on floor exercise.  Her variety of tumbling along with new choreography will make her routine exciting to watch.  Rebekah Porter (Valparaiso, Ind.) returns as one of the team’s strongest leaders.  Her solid work ethic and positive attitude have allowed her gymnastics to improve each year, and this year Porter looks to break into the vault line-up with a brand new dynamic Yurchenko style vault.  Another major contributor to the team will be Katelyn Schenkel (Pittsford, N.Y.).  A beautiful gymnast to watch with clean lines and form, she brings huge amplitude to all of her routines.  Kim Suarez (Wappinger Falls, N.Y.) may be able to make an impact on floor exercise.  As always, her positive personality and spirit make Suarez an important team player. 

    The sophomore class highlights three accomplished student-athletes who should be strong forces immediately.  Melissa César (Valencia, Venezuela) is expected to make significant impacts on the bar and beam line-ups, and could also contribute on vaulting.  Her ability to execute high level skills effortlessly makes her gymnastics a joy to watch.  Lindsay Kovary (Huntington Station, N.Y.) brings a strong work ethic to the team.  Called upon as a freshman to compete vault, bars, and beam, she is hoping to see time in the beam line-up as well.  Completing the sophomore class is Justine Turner (Salem, NH) who returns with a successful freshman outing under her belt.  Her dynamic style helped her earn career highs of 9.850 on vault and 9.875 on floor, and her superb skill level on both is amongst the best in the country.

    With the graduation of such a strong senior class (Lindsay Berrios, Hall, and Peña Trestini), the team will be looking to the incoming freshman to step up this year.  Luckily, the future of this group is very promising, possessing both talent and national-level experience.  Kelsey Alwin (St. Michael, Minn.) competed as a level 10 for Tags South Gymnastics, serving as the alternate for the 2006 Level 10 National Championship.  Alwin has strong skills and clean lines on all four events and will be a valuable competitor for the Wildcats.  Helena Diodati (Scarborough, Maine) comes to UNH from Maine Academy of Gymnastics, where she had top ten National finishes on vault and bars in 2006.  Diodati combines impeccable form and technique with explosive power, making her gymnastics exciting to watch.  She should be a major contributor on vault and bars, but could make the beam and floor line-ups as well.  From Cypress Academy comes Diane Grey (Spring, T.X.), a former International Elite.  She brings impressive competitive experience along with a repertoire of difficult and dynamic skills.  With 1st place finishes on vault and floor at the 2006 Level 10 Regional Championship, plus 2nd place finishes on bars and the all-around, Grey is expected to be a major contributor for UNH.  Taryn LaFountain (Utica, N.Y.) trained at Valley Gymnastics and was a 2006 National competitor.  She brings great energy to the team, specifically on beam, where her routine is packed full of challenging skills.  Although she will make an immediate impact on the beam line-up (she holds the National High School record of a 9.9), LaFountain is also a talented floor worker, where her combination of power and grace could earn her a competitive spot.  Jennifer Liston (N. Yarmouth, Maine) brings talent on all four apparatus.  Trained at Atlantic Gymnastics in Portsmouth, N.H., her long lines make her powerful gymnastics even more eye-catching.  Liston should vie for a spot in the beam and floor line-ups, but has great potential on bars and vault as well.  Finally, Keeley Smith (University Place, Wash.) comes to UNH from Grace Gymnastics with both strong skills and a spontaneous personality.  With top ten National finishes on beam and floor in 2006, she should make great impacts on these events, and could see time in the bar rotation as well.  Look for her dynamic movement, unique choreography, and bright smile to light up the Wildcat line-ups.

    The Wildcats will host five challenging home meets in 2007. Lundholm gymnasium will be the site for meets with Rutgers on Saturday, Jan. 6th, Denver on Sunday, Feb. 4th, Maryland on Saturday, Feb. 17th, and North Carolina on Friday, March 16th. The Fox Run Invitational features visiting teams Brown, Michigan State, and West Virginia and will be held at the Whittemore Center on Saturday, Feb. 10th.

    The travel schedule includes several of the same tough opponents that UNH will see at home, as the ‘Cats travel to Denver on Jan. 20th and will see Maryland on Feb. 23rd, one week after the home competition. The January schedule includes a quad meet at Rhode Island with Rutgers and Yale and a tri-meet at Pittsburgh with Air Force. The March schedule has the team on the road for challenging meets at Arkansas on March 9th, where the Wildcats will also face Pittsburgh and West Virginia for a second time, and a March 24th meet at Penn State that includes yet another meeting with Rutgers and Yale. Post season begins with the EAGL conference championship at Maryland on Friday, March 30th at 6:00 p.m.

    Qualification to the NCAA Regional meet is a major team objective this year, with the goal of “Steppin’ It Up” to be a top 18 seeded team and earning the opportunity to compete at any one of the NCAA Regional sites.  The six Regional meets will be held on April 14th at 6:00 p.m.  The NCAA Northeast Regional meet will be held at Michigan, while UC Berkeley hosts the West, Denver hosts the North Central, the South Central is at Arizona, the Central at Alabama, and the Southeast meet is at West Virginia.

    The NCAA National Championships will be held from April 26th - 28th at the University of Utah. It will feature the top two teams from each of the Regional meets, the top two individual all-arounders who are not part of an advancing team, and any individual Regional event winners who are not part of a team or an all-around qualifier.
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