MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Kayla Gray (Buffalo, N.Y.) set career highs on vault, floor exercise and all-around, matched her personal best uneven-bar score and registered a team-leading balance beam mark to lead the University of New Hampshire gymnastics team to third place Sunday afternoon at West Virginia's Wendy M. Roach Invitational Quad-Meet.
The Wildcats (10-5, 5-2 East Atlantic Gymnastics League) compiled their largest road score of the season with a 194.875 to defeat EAGL rival Towson (7-10, 0-4 EAGL), which scored a 193.150. Third-ranked Michigan (12-1, 5-1 Big Ten) won the meet with a 196.925, while No. 25 West Virginia (8-6, 1-1 Big 12) tallied a 196.550 for second place.
"The Wildcats stepped it up tonight against some of the toughest teams in the country," head coach Gail Goodspeed said. "It was a great away meet with terrific team energy. We certainly proved what we could do."
UNH had the difficult assignment of starting the meet on beam, but the 'Cats kept their composure in the nerve-wracking event to score a 48.650. Gray set the tone with a 9.850, earning a share of third place in the process. Jannelle Minichiello (Tewskbury, Mass.) hit for a season-best 9.725, which matched teammate Austyn Fobes (Howell, N.J.) for 14th place. Michigan's Katie Zurales, the country's 13th-ranked beam performer, won the event with a staggering 9.925.
The Wildcats roared back in the second rotation by notching their top floor exercise score of the season, a 49.225. Gray and Erika Rudiger (Slidell, La.) set career highs and Hannah Barile (Sinking Spring, Pa.) matched her personal best with tying marks of 9.875, part of a five-way deadlock for fifth place. The Mountaineers' Kaylyn Millick and the Wolverines' Joanna Sampson, the nation's No. 2 floor performer, tied for gold with matching marks of 9.950.
In the third rotation Barile stuck her vault for a personal-best-tying and team-high 9.825, which secured a share of ninth place. Fobes earned a 9.775 to tie for 13th place, and Gray made it two straight career-high events with a 9.725 (16th place). The 'Cats hit 6-for-6 on their powerful vault routines to score a 48.725. Zurales recorded a 9.925 for first place.
Gray followed up her back-to-back personal bests by matching her career-high bar score with a 9.800 to share fifth place. Fobes complemented that effort with a 9.775 (T-8th), and Minichiello's 9.725 was good for 13th place, helping UNH score a 48.275. Michigan's Joanna Sampson took the gold with a 9.875.
Gray finished in second place courtesy of her career-high 39.250 all-around score, which was just one-tenth behind all-around champion Millick.
UNH will return to Lundholm Gymnasium to take on Towson, Yale, and Brown in the annual UNH Invitational on Saturday, March 2, at 4 p.m. That will be the Senior Day meet for Jen Aucoin (Mullica Hill, N.J.), Courtney Connors (Buffalo, N.Y.), Fobes and Becca Marrama (Lynnfield, Mass.). For more information, visit www.unhwildcats.com, or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.