DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire gymnastics team embarks on its 2011 season with a season-opening meet versus EAGL rival Rutgers University this Sunday, Jan. 9, starting at 1 p.m. in Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Wildcats broke the 195 scoring mark four times on their way to a 16-6 record in 2010, and season highlights included capturing their own Invitational meet and recording regular-season victories over conference rivals Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Maryland, North Carolina State and George Washington. UNH hosted the EAGL Championship meet, where it placed fourth, and the Wildcats followed with an impressive fourth-place finish at the NCAA Regional Championships at Penn State University.
Thirty-second-year head coach Gail Goodspeed and associate head coach Ed Datti (28th year) are joined by new assistant coach Kristen Maloney. Maloney's career accolades are highlighted by a team bronze medal for the United States in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, NCAA National Championships with the UCLA Bruins in 2001, 2003 and 2004 and the NCAA individual title on vaulting and balance beam in 2005.
The 2011 squad is led by three talented seniors: co-captains Katie Lawrence (Lyme, Conn.) and Chelsea Steinberg (Ridgewood, N.J.) alongside Katie Caliendo (Manorville, N.Y.). Lawrence is a mainstay on beam (Personal Best-9.875) and bars (PB-9.8) as well as striving to add depth to vaulting as she trains to learn a Yurchenko full. Steinberg maintains the team's top spot on balance beam (PB-9.875) and was the only all-around for the 2010 season. She topped the 39 mark three times, won the all-around in five out of 11 meets and just barely missed a trip to the National Championship as the third individual all-around. Caliendo is a dynamic three-event competitor with personal bests of 9.85 on vaulting, bars and beam. She should be one of the top vaulters with an explosive Yurchenko full.
Headlining a deep junior class are Ali Carr (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Danielle Reibold (Horsham, Pa.). Carr is in contention for an all-around spot this season after previously excelling in vaulting (PB-9.85) and uneven bars (PB-9.95). Her 9.95 on bars tied for the University's all-time best on that event. Reibold is ready to compete as one of the best on three events: bars (PB-9.85), beam (PB-9.875) and floor (9.75), with hopes to return to all-around as well. Reibold is one of the most consistent and dependable performers on bars and beam with a strong shot at the lineup on floor. Tasia Percevecz (Fountain Hills, Ariz.) and Kate McGeever (Saco, Maine) should make an impact on the floor lineup. Percevecz (PB-9.775) saw action on floor in 2010 and consistently hit her routine. She has upgraded her tumbling and is training well on vaulting and bars as well. Her Yurchenko full on vaulting could help greatly with the depth on this event. McGeever is focusing primarily on floor exercise and performs excellent front tumbling with a front layout 2/1 full to open.
The sophomore class has returned stronger following the all-important first year of experience complete. Leading the way will be Austyn Fobes (Howell, N.J.), a talented former elite gymnast who saw limited but successful competition on floor (PB-9.85) and vault (9.825) last year due to a nagging back injury. Fobes has returned to health ready to establish herself as a premier all-around gymnast. Courtney Connors (Buffalo, N.Y.) had a successful debut on floor (PB-9.75) and vault (PB-9.825) for UNH last year and will continue to contribute on those events. Dianna Kurowyckyj (New York, N.Y.) was solid on beam (PB-9.75) last year, but has run into some health problems this fall that will sideline her early in the campaign. Jen Aucoin (Mullica Hill, N.J.) has recovered from major shoulder surgery during the summer before her freshman campaign, which forced her to spend most of last year rehabbing. She is back working well and should be a huge contributor on bars. Aucoin is also very strong on the other events, especially beam, and has the quickness and power to be a factor this season. Becca Marrama (Lynnfield, Mass.) should challenge for a spot in the floor lineup. Tweaking her combination tumbling should allow her to be one of the higher scoring floor competitors.
The freshman class arrived on campus with great potential, as six student-athletes joined the squad ready to make an impact. Hannah Barile (Sinking Spring, Pa.) brings one of the best vaults in the country, a pike Quervo (front handspring - ½ twist to a pike back flip), which placed her second at the Junior Olympic Nationals last year. She will also be strong on floor exercise with some of the highest tumbling difficulty on the team and will have a great shot at competing in the all-around. Jannelle Minichiello (Tewksbury, Mass.) entered the fall with an ankle injury she suffered over the summer, but she has been training well and should be able to make a full recovery. Minichiello is a solid beam performer, but her best event is floor exercise and she is a strong contender for the bar lineup. Jillian Hudson (Sparkill, N.Y.) has a long and distinguished Junior Olympic career and should be able to challenge for a lineup spot on any event, with her best event being vault. The pleasant surprise of the fall was Erin Machado (Swansea, Mass.), who spent the preseason expanding her skill level and has the athletic ability to learn a great deal. She shows promise on floor with great tumbling ability and on beam with fight and determination. Machado also has the power to be a solid vault competitor once she raises her difficulty level. Danielle Bonner (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) has a very competitive beam routine with loads of difficulty and should be challenging on that event. She is also working on a new dismount for bars and has ability on that event as well. Carly Stote (Kingston, N.Y.) started the fall setting the bar very high with her work ethic; unfortunately, she suffered a knee injury that will sideline her for the beginning of the season, but she has shown she is very capable of making a strong comeback.
The Wildcats will have to be at their best with the challenging 2011 schedule, featuring many of the country's top teams. Among the opponents invading Lundholm Gym this year: ninth-ranked Michigan on Feb. 5, Michigan State, Alaska, and Brown at the UNH Invitational on Feb. 12, plus Central Michigan and Bridgeport also visiting campus this season for home competitions.
The away schedule has the Wildcats visiting some powerhouse schools, including Maryland, 14th-ranked Penn State and Pittsburgh in the early part of the season. Later in the year the UNH Gymnasts will compete at West Virginia, where third-ranked Florida and George Washington also challenge the 'Cats in a quad meet Feb. 20. UNH also travels to Bridgeport, No. 12 LSU and the 19th-ranked University of Arizona, where Texas Woman's and BYU will also be part of a quad meet March 11.
The EAGL Championships will be held at George Washington University on March 19.
For information on UNH gymnastics tickets, CLICK HERE or call (603) 862-4000, x 5.