Gymnastics Closes Regular Season at No. 22 Kent State Quad-Meet (March 15, 7 p.m.)

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New Hampshire at No. 22 Kent State, w/ Cornell, Southeast Missouri State
March 15, 2013 • 7:00 p.m. • MAC Center • Kent, Ohio
Live Streaming: (One-Hour Tape Delay)

Kayla Gray

LAST TIME OUT (March 9, 2013) • UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. • UNH scored a 49.425 on floor exercise to shatter the University record en route to a 194.225 and a runner-up finish at Saturday afternoon's quad-meet, hosted and won by No. 15 Penn State at Rec Hall.
   The Wildcats upped their record to 15-6 on the season with wins against Penn (193.000) and Temple (189.650) and a setback against the Nittany Lions (196.975).
   The 'Cats opened the meet with a rough start on uneven bars, but the end of the lineup came through when Austyn Fobes (Howell, N.J.) stuck her dismount and scored a team-leading 9.825 for a share of fifth place. Jen Aucoin (Mullica Hill, N.J.) tallied a 9.775 for ninth place as UNH totaled a 48.200.
   The Wildcats' struggles continued in the second rotation, which resulted in a 48.000 on balance beam. Kayla Gray (Buffalo, N.Y.) headlined that apparatus by nailing a beautiful routine with a personal-best-tying 9.900 for the second straight meet, which allowed her to tie Penn State's Sharaya Musser for the top spot.
   Things turned around dramatically in the third rotation when four Wildcats set or matched personal-best floor exercise scores during the record-setting rotation. Gray led the way with a career-high 9.925 to finish in a four-way deadlock for first place with a trio of Nittany Lion gymnasts: Musser, Madison Merriam and Lexi Carroll. Fobes, who equaled her personal best for the second consecutive week with a 9.900, tied for fifth place. Hannah Barile (Sinking Spring, Pa.) and Jannelle Minichiello (Tewksbury, Mass.) scored matching marks of 9.875, with Barile tying her career high and Minichiello establishing a personal best to share seventh place.
   Barile hit a dynamic vault and tied a personal best for the fourth time this season with a 9.825 to finish fourth and pace New Hampshire's efforts in the final rotation. Courtney Connors (Buffalo, N.Y.) contributed a 9.750 to nab a share of seventh place as the 'Cats compiled a team vault score of 48.600.
   Musser was crowned the all-around champion with a 39.525, with Fobes (39.250) and Gray (39.150) taking second and third, respectively.

The Wildcats, who have reached the NCAA Regionals in 30 of the 31 years the NCAA has sponsored women's gymnastics, are currently on the outside looking in at the potential field of 36 teams. UNH is currently ranked 40th in the GymInfo Poll with an RQS of 194.535. That is 0.32 points behind current No. 36 Iowa State. Here is a glimpse at the teams "on the bubble" with two weeks remaining:

School                         RQS
36. Iowa State            194.855
37. Rutgers                194.685
38. Michigan State       194.585
39. George Washington 194.540
40. UNH                         194.535

The Wildcats established an all-time high with a 49.425 floor-exercise score at the Penn State quad-meet March 9. The previous high mark of 49.400 was set in 2001 and matched in 2004. UNH is ranked second in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) with a 49.100 floor RQS, and Hannah Barile is the league's No. 5 floor performer with a 9.860 RQS. Austyn Fobes and Kayla Gray are tied for 10th (9.845 RQS).

With one regular-season meet remaining before the EAGL Championship (March 23) at North Carolina, senior Austyn Fobes is in the running for All-EAGL honors on vault (No. 14), bars (T-2nd), beam (ninth), floor (T-10th) and all-around (ninth).

The 22nd-ranked Kent State gymnastics team won the regular-season Mid-American Conference championship after posting a quad-meet victory against Eastern Michigan, Air Force and Alaska-Anchorage on March 9. Sophomore Whitnee Johnson captured first place in all-around with a score of 39.050 to propel Kent State to its 11th straight meet triumph.
   Senior Rachel Guida is tied for 15th nationally on uneven bars with a 9.890 RQS and a season-high of 9.925. Junior Marie Case boasts a share of the No. 25 ranking on floor exercise nationally with a 9.885 RQS and a high of 9.925.

SCOUTING THE BIG RED: Cornell posted its fourth consecutive quad-meet runner-up finish and its sixth straight meet above 190.500 when it placed second at Southern Connecticut State on March 10. The Big Red finished with a team score of 191.675, just behind Brown (192.000) but clear of SCSU (191.025) and West Chester (186.425).
   The Big Red enters the weekend with a 191.610 regional qualifying score, good for seventh among the 13 teams attempting to qualify for the USAG nationals. Only the top eight qualify for the championship meet beginning April 12 in Shreveport, La. The Big Red is nearly a full point ahead of Lindenwood and Centenary for the eighth spot, but less than a half-point behind Brown for fourth.
   Cornell enters the weekend with a number of top-10 ranked gymnasts in the ECAC. Freshman Madeline Martinez is eighth on vault (9.735), while McKenna Archer (ninth, 9.720) and Alicia Bair (10th, 9.680) also round out the top 10. Junior Melanie Jorgensen ranks fourth on bars (9.770) with Lexi Schupp (sixth, 9.765) and Sarah Hein (10th, 9.680) also sitting among the top 10 in the conference. Hein also is the squad's top student-athlete on floor in eighth with a 9.740 RQS.

Southeast Missouri competes in its first multi-team competition of the season. Southeast cracked 194 as a team for the second straight meet with a come-from-behind 194.225-193.875 win over Texas Woman's on March 8. Taylor Westrick won both bars and beam, Megan Fosnow claimed all-around and shared the vault title while Taryn Vanderpool won on floor to give the Redhawks gold in each event. Southeast's score was its second highest team total of the season.
   Vanderpool has emerged as a top gymnast for the Redhawks this season. After battling injuries for her first two campaigns, Vanderpool has stayed in the lineup to compete in the all-around in all nine meets this year. She has either won the all-around or finished second in the competition seven times and leads the Redhawks with 23 scores of 9.700 or higher.
   Fosnow, who qualified for the NCAA regional championships as an individual in the all-around last year, has also competed in the AA during all nine meets. This year, she has scored 38.525 or higher in the all-around seven times and boasts the team's highest score on vault (9.875). 
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