DURHAM, N.H.-The University of New Hampshire women's gymnastics team will open its 2001 campaign on Sunday, Jan. 7 vs. Rutgers. The meet is set to begin at 1 p.m. in Lundholm Gymnasium.

The Wildcats are coming off a 12-5 season that saw the squad place sixth at the EAGL conference championships and then go on to qualify for the NCAA Regionals at Penn State, where UNH placed sixth. A home victory over Penn State was a major highlight of the season and fortunately for 21st-year head coach Gail Goodspeed, many of the top performers from that meet return in 2001.

Here's a look at the UNH team broken down by event:

VAULT: The Wildcats feature a strong base of competitors in this event with the return of senior Rose Kosowski (Whitesboro, N.Y.), sophomore Michelle Harley (Collegeville, Pa.), senior Suzanne Poretz (Alexandria, Va.), junior Bethany Wagner (Bound Brook, N.J.), and senior Wendy Wheaton (Rockville, Md.). Also looking to help out here is sophomore Jen Dickson (Salisbury, Md.) who is back from an injury. First-year gymnasts could make an impact in the vault once the season gets started. Look for freshman Sara Gurka (Chicopee, Mass.) and sophomore Allison King (Salem, N.H.) compete for spots in the lineup. Harley receive EAGL Rookie of the Year honors in 2000 and was first-team All-EAGL in the vault and Wheaton was second-team All-EAGL in this event.

UNEVEN BARS: This is traditionally a strong event for the Wildcats and this year should be no exception. Leading the way to success will be a trio of seniors in Wheaton, Poretz and Kosowski. Harley is also a consistent performer and look for first-year members Tara Phillips (Spring, Texas) and Brieyn McNamara (Manassas, Va.) to shine in this event as well. Wheaton was second-team all-league in this event.

BALANCE BEAM: Graduation losses will be a major factor in this area as Cara Lepper, Katy Fader, Lisa Koning and Kathy Thickman all have graduated with personal bests of 9.8 or higher. Goodspeed will be looking for consistency and hard work out of the remaining gymnasts if these big shoes are to be filled successfully. Leading the way will be Poretz, Revis, Harley, Kosowski and Wagner. Also battling for spots in the lineup will be Dicksonand sophomore Erin Malinak (Pittsburgh, Pa.).

FLOOR EXERCISE: Look for Kosowski, who was second-team all-league in this event, and Wheaton, who was second-team All-EAGL, to help carry this area for the 'Cats. Kosowski is a very exciting and powerful tumbler who should register some high scores in 2001. Wheaton is very expressive in her tumbling and is usually a fan favorite, while Hurley should also post some impressive numbers with her routine. Poretz, Revis and Wagner add even more veteran depth and McNamara is a newcomer who could score some point.

A LOOK AT RUTGERS: The Rutgers Scarlet Knights will be looking to begin this season as successfully as they ended their 2000 campaign. Rutgers gymnasts were nationally ranked in thirty-first place, and the Scarlet Knights also attended the NCAA Regional meet, where they placed fourth.Rutgers lost five seniors from last season, but were replenished with six incoming freshmen. All of the rookies qualified for the Level 10 USA Regional championships, and three qualified for the USA National Championships. Lisa Abrams, Laura Iepson and Ashley Christman took first, second and third places on the balance beam at the 2000 Gymnastics Regionals.The team's co-captains this year will be Dawn Campbell and Josie Bokara. Campbell will be looked upon as a leader on bars. Last year, Campbell scored the first-ever 10.0 for the Rutgers Program. Josie Bokara will be leading the team on the beam, having averaged 9.5 on the event last season.Junior Courtney Turner will be taking over the first-place position on the vault, with Kristen Marino following closely behind. Abrams is also expected to perform well, and may earn a start on the vault. Look for Turner to excell on the floor exercise, where she will try to top her all-time high of 9.95. Junior Katie Russo will be expected to perform well on the floor. Russo held the highest season average last year, a 9.696.

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