Gymnastics sends two to nationals, tallies record-high postseason score

Media Credit: Hatchet file photo by Charlie Lee | Senior Staff Photographer

Senior Chelsea Raineri prepares for a vault at the NCAA Morgantown Regional Saturday. She was one of the two Colonials that qualified for nationals.

Gymnastics set a new program-record postseason score in the NCAA Morgantown Regional Saturday and in the process qualified two gymnasts for nationals for the first time in program history.

After winning the individual all-around title at East Atlantic Gymnastics League championships, junior Cami Drouin-Allaire placed seventh overall in the all-around competition with a 39.175 score, grabbing the second and final qualifying spot for the 2017 National Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Championships.

She will be the first GW gymnast to make repeat appearances at the national level.

Drouin-Allaire will be joined by senior Chelsea Raineri, who became the only event specialist to earn a qualifying spot.

She tied for first place on the vault with a 9.875 and made the podium in a tie for third place on floor exercise (9.90).

Raineri, who has been a four-year top contributor for the Colonials, was emotional after hearing that her career would be extended one more meet, she said.

“I don’t think I can describe in words how it feels to be going [to nationals],” Raineri said. “I was only thinking about the team, and when they announced [my name] I just broke out into tears because I couldn’t believe it.”

Rounding out her 32nd year at the helm of the program, head coach Margie Foster-Cunningham attributed the team’s dominant run to a winning mentality by team leadership.

“Our senior captains [DeMoura] and [Raineri] are just pure leaders,” Foster-Cunningham said. “They worked shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone and held their teammates accountable. It’s really special to be able to build chemistry like this.”

Foster-Cunningham earned her second-consecutive EAGL Coach of the Year Award after leading the Colonials to an impressive 24-4 record and a No. 20 national ranking.

Gymnastics competed in a six-team pool, including powerhouses like No. 6 Alabama and No. 7 Michigan. Finishing fifth overall, GW posted a score of 195.625.

“It means a lot to see the work you put in the preseason and throughout the season pay off,” Drouin-Allaire said. “To have Chelsea go with me is even more special and I’m happy we’re going together.”

Junior Sara Mermelstein joined Drouin-Allaire and Raineri on the vault podium, tying for third place with a score of 9.85.

Now with three straight trips to NCAA Regionals and two EAGL titles in three years, Foster-Cunningham sees the success as a testament to the strong foundations GW has built in recent years.

“The recognition on the national level is just unbelievable,” said Foster-Cunningham. “It shows we are on the climb, and that we’re not plateauing at all.”

Led by a team motto of “ATP” – attitude, toughness and pride – the Colonials have team character that will not fail, Raineri said.

“I have no doubt in my mind that the coming years are going to just surpass any limits we had this year,” Raineri said. “I know they’re hungry for more and they’re just going to keep building the program.”

The Colonials will lose key leadership next year with Raineri and DeMoura graduating in the spring. For Drouin-Allaire, this means stepping up to carry on the tradition of success.

“Going into next season, we’re just going to build on what [Raineri and DeMoura] started,” Drouin-Allaire said. “We’re bringing in a lot of experience, and it helps because we know we’re all going to be there for each other no matter what.”

Nationals will take place at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Mo. April 14 and 15.

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