Young but talented, the GW gymnastics team is setting its hopes on capturing the Atlantic 10 Championship that eluded it a year ago.
The Colonial women, who placed second at last year’s A-10 Championship, took their first step toward their goal by placing first in the GW Gymnastics Invitational at the Smith Center Sunday. After dropping its season opener to West Virginia University 190.6-184.55, GW amassed 187.075 points to defeat three other squads – the University of Pennsylvania, the College of William & Mary and Temple University – at the meet.
“The girls are pumped up to win the title and looking to compete in the NCAA Regional Championship,” said head coach Margie Cunningham, whose 14-member team consists of seven freshmen. Only the top seven teams in the region are selected to compete in the NCAA Regionals.
GW led after each rotation and the freshmen proved they are capable of competing with the veterans.
“When I say I have a young team it’s not that they are inexperienced. They are very strong,” said Cunningham, who is in her 13th year coaching gymnastics.
GW freshman Darden Wilee of Chesapeake, Va. had a solid day, placing second in the all-around competition with a score of 37.150. Wilee tied another freshman, Donna Sickler of Phoenixville, Pa. for second place in the vault with a score of 9.650.
Freshman Stacie Evans of Manilus, NY earned a first-place finish on the balance beam with an impressive 9.675. She also placed fifth in the uneven bars.
“She is calm, cool and collected and has great composure for a freshman,” Cunningham said.
Also placing was freshman Stephanie Goldsmith of Atlantic Beach, NY who came in third in the floor exercise and sixth in the vault.
With a score of 9.575 sophomore Erica Lewy placed first in the floor exercise. In addition, Lewy placed second on the balance beam with a score of 9.625.
Right behind her on the floor exercise was senior Siobhan Haney, who came in second with a score of 9.475, her personal best. Haney also had a strong performance on the uneven bars with a 9.425 and a second-place finish.
Senior captain Alexis Hrynko, one of the top returnees from last season, captured first in the vault with a score of 9.775 and came in fourth in the all-around competition. “You will see her coming in strong,” Cunningham said.
Recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Lisa Gruber, last year’s top performer, is expected to make a major contribution to the team soon.
Every four years the scoring system is re-adjusted with different values assigned for various skills. Cunningham said the scoring system will take some getting used to, but overall scores should improve as the season progresses
By mid-February Cunningham said she wants the team to be scoring in the 190s. For now the Colonial women will start by focusing on their next meet against a tough University of Kentucky squad.
“Our goal for next week is to improve a few points simply by being more consistent,” Cunningham said.