Going into the Atlantic 10 Championships, GW gymnastics senior co-captain Darden Wilee was confident that her team would do well – the meet would be at home, which meant the team would be using its own equipment.
Obviously a little home cooking worked well for Wilee, the A-10 Performer of the Year, who captured her first Atlantic 10 All-Around title and led GW to its fourth consecutive A-10 Championship Saturday at the Smith Center. The victory secured GW’s spot in the NCAA regionals held in Gainesville, Fla., April 7. Last year the Colonials finished sixth overall in the regional competition with a 191.650, and Devin McCalla took fifth place in the all-around.
McCalla set an A-10 Championship record on the balance beam Saturday with a 9.950, and GW gymnasts won every event of the meet. GW finished the meet with a score of 194.975, followed by second-place UMass with a 193.825, third-place Rhode Island (191.000) and Temple (188.625).
Wilee, who was the A-10 Rookie Performer of the Year as a freshman, capped off her magnificent senior year in the A-10 by winning the all-around title with a score of 39.050, just ahead of McCalla’s 39.000.
Besides winning the all-around title, Wilee won the uneven bars with a score of 9.825 – the only event in which GW did not capture at least two of the top three places.
McCalla, who won both the All-Around title as well as the A-10 Performer of the Year last season, praised Wilee for her performance.
“It was awesome for her to win,” McCalla said. “It’s a good feeling on the team and it was a nice way for Darden to round out her career.”
McCalla’s balance-beam score broke the old record of 9.925, which was set by UMass’s Anita Sanyal in 1999. Junior Jessica Mantak finished tied for second with UMass’ Jobi Dan’Sy (9.925).
McCalla’s score of 9.950 on the floor exercise also earned her the title of A-10 Champion of the floor exercise. Dan’Sy earned second place with a 9.90 while GW’s Rachel Mann, Rhode Island’s Kelly Labowitz and UMass’ Megan Donoghue all tied for third (9.875).
McCalla said she felt that one of the reasons that GW has been so successful the past four years in the A-10 is because winning the A-10 Championship has not been the team’s ultimate goal.
“To us it’s still just a stepping stone as opposed to other schools who make it their goal,” McCalla said. “It’s not the apex of our season.”
On the vault GW junior Jamie McNally set a career high of 9.800 and was crowned A-10 champion of the vault. Also in that event, McCalla and Rhode Island’s Missy Bockstoce tied for second place with scores of 9.750. Wilee finished tied for fourth on the vault with a 9.700.
After the meet, GW gymnasts were recognized for their outstanding performances this season. Wilee was named the 2001 A-10 Performer of the Year. She was also named to the A-10 All-Conference team along with teammates McCalla, Jamie McNally and Jessica Mantak. GW coach Margie Foster-Cunningham received her third A-10 Coach of the Year award.
“Margie (Foster-Cunningham) is the backbone of this team,” McCalla said. “She recruits gymnasts and when they get here she makes them into leaders.”