The Colonials know the meaning of home field advantage.
For the second consecutive year, GW started its season with a second-place finish at the Lindsey Ferris Invitational Jan. 15. Hosting East Atlantic Gymnastics League foe North Carolina, as well as Penn, Cornell, William and Mary and Temple, the Colonials posted 190.325 points en route to their second place result. GW was edged only by North Carolina, which scored 192.650 to garner first place honors.
“Today was all about perseverance for us,” junior Stephanie Stoicovy said. “We have a mission statement, and it’s ‘preparation, consistency and perseverance.’ We worked really hard in preseason, and got the preparation and consistency down, so today we just had to persevere, and I think we did really well.”
Stoicovy stole the spotlight Sunday afternoon, grabbing top individual honors with the best all-around score of 38.700, setting a personal record. She also placed first in the floor exercise, with a score of 9.775, and was awarded the Lindsey Ferris “Attitude is Everything” award.
Stoicovy’s individual performance was especially meaningful, she said, after overcoming adversity to return to competition. A shoulder tear required surgery that sidelined Stoicovy for the first five meets of the 2011 season, and though she returned in Feb. 2011 to finish the year, Sunday’s meet marked her first complete return to a full season of competition since the injury.
“I’ve come back from a lot,” Stoicovy said. “I had surgery, I had a sickness earlier this year for a month and I was out. It was just a really big deal for me to come back. This was my goal at the beginning of the year, and it means a lot to accomplish it.”
Freshman Courtney Willoughby also had a strong performance, placing third on vault with a score of 9.725. She also earned a fifth-place finish on the floor exercise (9.600) and 10th place on the uneven parallel bars (9.625). Sophomore Kiera Kenney finished fifth on the uneven parallel bars, ending with a score of 9.750 in that event.
Head coach Margie Foster-Cunningham, in her 27th year with the program, said she believes the strong start indicates the team will continue to improve as the season progresses.
“There were so many things that were great today,” Foster-Cunningham said. “Stephanie Stoicovy coming off an injury and Courtney Willoughby, who is a freshman and is going to be awesome. It’s a great start for us. A lot of mistakes that were made today we can remedy very easily, and we’re looking forward to getting back in the gym and cleaning things up a bit.”
Foster-Cunningham was particularly pleased with the performance of her team on the vault, an event she pointed to last season as an area where her team would continue to improve. The Colonials scored a 48.225 as a team – their best event score of the day – finishing second overall in that category.
GW also earned a second-place finish on the balance beam, with a combined score of 47.975, and took third on the floor exercise with a 46.900.
“We are going to be really good on [the vault],” Foster-Cunningham said. “It’s been our nemesis for a long time. Bars was a little bit crazy today but we’re just going to get back to work again and get it going.”
The Colonials next travel to Columbus, Ohio for a Jan. 21 competition at Ohio State.