DURHAM,N.H.- The University of New Hampshire women’s gymnastics team held its annual team awards banquet Saturday, May 2 at the Squamscott Room in Holloway Commons. A total of fourteen gymnasts were honored, including four who received individual awards.
Senior captain Justine Turner (Salem, N.H.) received the most hardware, as she was named Most Inspirational and MVP. The Most Inspirational is given to a gymnast who does the most on-and-off the mats, while the MVP is given to the most valuable gymnast. Turner finished her Wildcat career with career highs of 9.9 on vault, 9.75 on bars, 9.825 on beam, 9.875 floor and a 38.925 on all-around. She was named to the All-EAGL Tournament team in 2008 and to the EAGL All-League squad the past two years.
The squad’s Most Improved Award was given to sophomore Katie Lawrence (Lyme, Conn.). Lawrence entered the season as a walk-on, but worked hard enough to compete at the EAGL Championship and the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships. At the EAGL Championship, she competed on bars and beam, tying for ninth place with a solid mark of 9.8 on beam. She also competed on bars and beam at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship.
The Academic Excellence Award was established in 2002 and is in memory of former UNH gymnast Katie Baldwin, who passed away in November 2000. The honor is given to the gymnast with the highest grade-point-average. This year’s recipient was freshman Danielle Reibold (Horsham, Penn.), who compiled a 3.83 GPA.
Junior Helena Diodati (Scarborough, Maine) earned the Gatos Award, which is the team’s strength and conditioning accolade, selected by strength and conditioning coach John Ciani. Diodati turned in another great performance for UNH this year. She was named EAGL Specialist of the Week (Feb. 24) and EAGL Co-Gymnast of the Week (Jan. 20) for her efforts.
The honoree of the Coaches’ Award was Diane Grey (Spring, Texas). The Coaches’ Award is given to the individual who goes above-and-beyond the requirements of being a UNH gymnast and assists in all avenues of being a member of the team.
In addition to individual awards, the team recognized fourteen gymnasts who made it into the 9.5 Club. The Club is dedicated in memory of the Wildcats’ #1 fan, Robert Houston, Sr. and is awarded to a gymnast who earns a score of at least a 9.5 during the season.
First year honorees were freshman Ali Carr (Chelmsford, Mass.), Lawrence, Reibold and junior Julie Sauchuk (Peabody, Mass.). Gymnasts who were named to the club for the second time in their careers were sophomores Taryn Archambault (Tewksbury, Mass.), Katie Caliendo (Manorville, N.Y.), Andie Sablosky (Springfield, N.J.) and Chelsea Steinberg (Ridgewood, N.J.). Third year honorees included juniors Kelsey Alwin (St. Michael, Minn.), Grey, Diodati, Taryn LaFountain (Utica, N.Y.) and Keeley Smith (University Place, Wash.). Turner was the only fourth year honoree.
The team also honored its seniors, which included, Turner, Melissa Cesar (Valencia, Venezuela) and Lindsay Kovary (Huntington Station, N.Y).
Although Cesar saw limited action this year, she contributed in her time at UNH. Her career highs include a 9.7 on bars and a 9.8 on beam.
Kovary was unable to compete this season due to health issues, but spent the last three years racking up awards and served as a co-captain. Her accolades include being named to the EAGL All-Academic Team (2008, 2007 & 2006), the NACGC/W Scholastic All American team (2008, 2007 & 2006), earning the Academic Excellence Award (2006) and the Gatos Award (2007). Kovary’s career highs are a 9.675 on vault and a 9.75 on floor.
The 2009-10 team captains were also named at the banquet. Serving as co-captains next season will be incumbent juniors Diodait and LaFountain, while current sophomore Lawrence will serve as assistant captain.