The GW women’s gymnastics team captured its second consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship Saturday at McGonigle Hall in Philadelphia with the best score in school history.
The Colonial women finished with an overall team score of 194.650, followed by Massachusetts (194.525), Rhode Island (193.650) and Temple (191.300).
“It’s definitely sweeter the second time,” GW head coach Margie Foster-Cunningham said. “We had to battle all the way through the last second of the last event, but we stuck in there and pulled it out. I’m very proud of our team.”
GW’s point total was the best-ever by a GW gymnastics team, beating the previous high of 194.350 set earlier this season. NCAA rules state that the highest and lowest scores of the season will not be considered for qualification in NCAA Regional meets. Attaining a new season high was a particularly important achievement for the Colonial women, as their old high score will now be counted and their chances to be selected for NCAAs have improved.
“It was awesome,” junior Erica Lewy said. “Everybody hung in there, toughed it out, and fought for every tenth.”
Foster-Cunningham was named A-10 Coach of the Year at the meet, while GW freshman Devin McCalla was named Most Outstanding Rookie Performer. McCalla also was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference Team along with freshman Kelley Banks. Mandy Mosby of UMass was named Most Outstanding Performer of the meet.
“Devin and Margie deserve every bit of recognition they received,” Lewy said. “Obviously the main thing for us was winning the championship, but Margie and Devin getting their awards were like extra added bonuses.”
Having the first seed, which meant GW had its normal Smith Center rotation, was particularly important, sophomore Darden Wilee said.
“It was like having home-court advantage,” Wilee said. “That’s what we’re used to.”
Wilee started the meet solidly, earning a tie for second place on the vault with a score of 9.800. Stephanie Goldsmith had the next best finish on the apparatus for the Colonial women, finishing in a tie for fourth with a score of 9.750. Wilee also had GW’s highest score on the uneven parallel bars, earning a tie for fourth with a score of 9.800.
Banks tied for second on the balance beam with a score of 9.900. She also tied for first on the floor exercise, along with McCalla and Mosby. All had scores of 9.875. Wilee said Banks solidified her spot in the lineup with one of the best meets in her short collegiate career.
Darden Wilee narrowly missed first place in the all-around, falling to Mosby by one tenth of a point. Wilee earned second with a score of 39.100.
The judges took more than half an hour to tabulate the scores, through which the entire GW team sat waiting nervously.
“All of us sat in a circle, holding hands,” Wilee said. “I honestly was a little iffy on whether we had won. As soon as they announced UMass in second, all of us went crazy. We jumped up and down, clapped, screamed, everything. I was ecstatic.”
“It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever experienced in my gymnastics career,” freshman Jessica Mantak said. “We didn’t have a perfect meet, which is why it was so close, but we’re glad we came out on top.”