Seniors lead gymnastics to home victory, season-high total

Media Credit: Donna Armstrong | Hatchet Photographer

Senior Sara Mermelstein performs her balance beam routine during a gymnastics event Sunday afternoon at the Smith Center.

In gymnastics’ fifth event of the year Sunday, seniors led GW to its best total since last February.

Fourth-year gymnasts Jillian Winstanley, Cami Drouin-Allaire and Alexandra Zois helped the Colonials to a top-two finish in each event. Winstanley and Zois both finished with season-high totals.

GW (8-2, 2-0 EAGL) collected its fourth straight win with a season-high score of 196.525 – 1.200 higher than second-place Kent State.

“The leadership is incredible and not just their leadership on the floor,” head coach Margie Foster-Cunningham said. “They make sure for practice that they’re mentally prepared and physically strong. These are probably some of the best captains I have ever had.”

In the quad-school meet, GW hosted Kent State, William & Mary and Oshkosh for its annual Pink Meet, to bring awareness to breast cancer. GW made the podium on all events, including a sweep on the vault.

The Colonials have steadily risen through the ranks of college gymnastics after finishing third in their first meet. They are now slotted at No. 25 nationally and have improved their final total from each previous outing.

Foster-Cunningham said her team’s recent surge has been due to its focus on consistency, describing gymnastics as a sport of “hundreds of tenths.”

“We are very focused in practice on improving what we call 0.025’s,” Foster-Cunningham said. “Each athlete has goals every week to try and elevate the team score. They’re very focused on improving certain areas of their routine.”

Including Sunday’s victory, GW has now finished in first place in six of its last seven home meets.

The Colonials began the meet on the vault for the first rotation, their strongest apparatus as a team.

Zois started off the Colonials strong with a vault that earned her a career-high score of 9.800. Sophomore Cydney Crasa followed suit with a 9.755 vault, also a career-high.

“I think we are really good at keeping our energy high,” Zois said. “We just like to focus on the next person up and keep the energy high at all times and I think that helps.”

Zois was edged out of a spot on the podium for vault by three teammates, tying for fourth place with Kent State’s Abby Fletcher. Co-captains Drouin-Allaire and Winstanley (9.900) captured first place, while senior Liz Pfeiler (9.850) came in second.

The Colonials finished the rotation in first place and carried that momentum with them to the uneven bars – a weaker event for the team.

“Just using the momentum from the vault to carry though the events was big,” Winstanley said. “Our team is really good at staying in the moment and just taking it all one thing at a time.”

The Colonials also recorded their best team score of the year on the uneven bars with a 49.075 overall, behind a 9.875 showing from Winstanley and a career-high 9.850 from Pfeiler. Winstanley’s score earned her second place in the event, behind Kent State’s Rachel Stypinski (9.950).

Donna Armstrong | Hatchet Photographer

Senior Cami Drouin-Allaire prepares to perform her balance beam rountine during a gymnastics meet at the Smith Center Sunday.

On the bars, GW gymnasts looked to emphasize execution on their basic skills, hoping they could stay competitive, Foster-Cunningham said.

“Uneven bars is all about the handstands,” she said. “It’s all about the handstands and the sticks for us on bars and we are really focusing in on that.”

In its third rotation, GW performed aggressive routines on balance beam, causing a number of balance checks on apparatus. Winstanley (9.875) placed second and senior Sara Mermelstein, Zois and Pfeiler finished in a three-way tie for third (9.775) – the event was the Colonials’ lowest scoring of the afternoon.

On the floor, they finished the meet in comfortable fashion. Drouin-Allaire captured first place with a score of 9.925, while Zois (9.875) tied for third with Kent State’s Fletcher.

Zois said the team’s high scores on the floor throughout the year have been due to their healthy habits formed through their time at GW.

“When we go to the gym the assignments aren’t easy but it gets our endurance ready to go,” Zois said. “When we arrive at the meet we feel great because of the work we put in at the gym.”

Winstanley (39.475) and Drouin-Allaire (39.325) came in second and third place, respectively, in the all-around competition, with Kent State’s Stypinski capturing first (39.550).

On Saturday, the Colonials will travel to Colorado to compete against West Virginia and Denver.

Foster-Cunningham said the team was excited to test their improving scores against some of the top teams in the country. She said her gymnasts hope to get better and to do so they need to compete at the highest level.

“We are coming into the toughest part of our schedule,” Foster-Cunningham said. “So for me, our focus is to take our show on the road and perform the same.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.