Gymnasts place third at home invitational

As the GW women’s gymnastics team opens the 2005 season, coach Margie Foster-Cunningham expects a tougher challenge than the team has faced in years past.

The Colonials spent 17 seasons in the Atlantic 10 conference, winning five consecutive championships, but is now competing in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL), alongside the universities of Pittsburgh, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Carolina State University, West Virginia University and Rutgers University.

While conference competition has not yet begun, the Colonials’ first true test came on Sunday, when they hosted North Carolina, Cornell, William and Mary, University of Pennsylvania, Temple and Towson State at the annual GW Invitational.

The Colonials gave a strong performance in front of the home crowd at the Smith Center, placing third behind first-place North Carolina and second-place Towson. Pennsylvania, Temple, Cornell, and William and Mary finished fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.

While third place was not idea in the home meet, Cunningham said her team has room for improvement.

“I think with the new competition the girls are a little nervous,” she said. “I am just happy it’s early in the season.”

Junior Erin Aiken was sixth overall in the all-around competition with a total of 37.225, while junior Heather Kaufman finished seventh with a score of 36.300. Kaufman also recorded a meet-high 9.550 on the floor.

Junior Amy Stack finished tied for second individually on the vault while sophomore Jess Guilbert finished tied for fourth. Captain Megan Wilson finished tied for fifth on the beam for the Colonials’ third place effort.

“We now have two weeks before we go to (a meet in) Kentucky,” Cunningham said. “It is much needed time to prepare. We have a lot of work to do and we need to get moving with it.”

The 2004 season was a successful campaign for the Colonials, who won 16 meets, but were unable to qualify for the NCAA regional tournament.

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