GW gymnasts win first A-10 Championship

After six straight second-place finishes at the Atlantic 10 Championship, the GW gymnastics team decided it was tired of playing second fiddle.

The GW team captured its first-ever A-10 Championship Saturday at Keaney Gymnasium in Kingston, RI with a team score of 193.950.

The Colonial women just beat out Massachusetts, 1997’s A-10 Champion, which finished with a team score of 193.750. Rhode Island, which hosted the A-10 Championships, finished third with a score of 193.125, while Temple finished fourth with a score of 186.275.

Winning the A-10 title is a milestone for the GW gymnastics program. Head coach Margie Foster-Cunningham, in her 13th season at GW, has seen the program improve steadily under her watch. After finishing near the bottom of the heap in the A-10 in the 1985-’86 season, the Colonial women earned a second-place finish six seasons later in the 1991-’92 campaign.

GW remained second best in the conference for the next five years, but broke that streak by taking the title Saturday.

After the meet Foster-Cunningham was named A-10 Coach of the Year, while freshman Darden Wilee was named A-10 Most Outstanding Rookie Performer. Wilee finished second in the all-around competition with a score of 38.675, less than three-tenths of a point off the pace of UMass’ Mandy Mosby, who captured the Most Outstanding Performer award by posting a combined score of 38.950 on the four apparatuses.

Senior Alexis Hrynko, who was named to the All-Conference Team, tied for first in the vault with a mark of 9.875, followed by freshman Stephanie Goldsmith, who scored a 9.850 to take third. Hrynko was the conference’s Most Outstanding Performer in 1997.

Freshman Stacie Evans, the other GW gymnast selected to be a part of the All-Conference Team, tied for first on the balance beam with a score of 9.850.

Sophomore Erica Lewy finished in a tie for second in the floor exercise, while senior Siobhan Haney placed second on the uneven parallel bars.

In a tune-up for the Atlantic 10 Championships, the GW gymnasts finished second in a three-team meet at West Virginia University Coliseum March 15.

GW finished with a team score of 192.525, well back of West Virginia, the host school, which posted a score of 196.000. The Colonial women finished ahead of Rutgers University, which compiled a team score of 190.325.

Senior Shari Doulman posted the only first-place finish for the Colonial women with a score of 9.950 on the balance beam.

GW could not keep up with the stellar performances turned in by West Virginia, which got perfect scores from Nikki West on the vault and Umme Salim on the uneven parallel bars.

Hrynko finished second on the vault with a score of 9.875 and was the only Colonial gymnast other than Doulman to finish higher than second on any of the four apparatuses. Wilee and Lisa Gruber were the next highest finishers for GW with fourth- and fifth-place efforts on the balance beam.

Earlier in the week the GW gymnastics team was edged 193.475-193.200 by the University of Maryland at Ritchie Coliseum March 11, despite recording first-place performances in three of the four rotations.

Maryland, although it had individual winners in only the all-around competition and the floor exercise, was able to register a season-high team score and also posted season highs on the floor exercise (48.725) and the balance beam (48.250).

GW and Maryland, who had competed in two meets prior to this one, had split their earlier meetings. The Terrapins defeated the Colonial women 190.925-190.100 at the Towson Invitational Feb. 22, but GW came back to defeat Maryland 194.150-192.050 Feb. 25 in its best meet of the season.

GW got several outstanding individual performances, despite the team’s loss. Hrynko placed first in the vault with a score of 9.800, defeating the second-place finishers by a full tenth of a point. Hrynko and Wilee placed second in the all-around with totals of 38.900, just a quarter of a point behind Maryland’s Christine Holcombe (38.925).

Haney finished first with an impressive 9.950 mark on the uneven parallel bars, a school record on that apparatus. Doulman and Wilee finished first and second on the balance beam with scores on 9.850 and 9.800, respectively.

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