GYMNASTICS FALLS TO AUBURN IN FINAL REGULAR-SEASON MEET

AUBURN, Ala. - The University of New Hampshire gymnastics team closed out the regular season with a 194.425-192.975 loss at Auburn University on Friday night at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats close out the regular season with a mark of 8-7.

"For the circumstances we faced tonight we didn't do too bad," said UNH coach Gail Goodspeed. "It was certainly a better performance than last week at Towson even though the score doesn't show it."

Senior Bethany Wagner (Bound Brook, N.J.) took top honors in the all-around competition for the first time in her career. She posted a personal-best 39.000 in the all-around to take the top spot. Wagner edged out Auburn's Courtney Puckett (38.925) to capture first place. Junior Jen Dickson (Salisbury, Md.) placed third with a 38.450 mark.

Wagner was not originally slated to compete in the all-around, but was a last-second replacement on beam for Crystal Beak (DeWitt, N.Y.). Beak, who has competed in all four events the last two weeks, sprained her ankle in warmups and sat out Friday's meet. She is questionable for next weekend's EAGL championships.

UNH led after one rotation, posting a 48.700 on the uneven bars while the Tigers registered a mark of 48.600 on vault. Dickson and Wagner tied for third in the uneven bars competition with a score of 9.825.

Competing next on vault, the 'Cats posted a mark of 47.875 as they were forced to count a fall. Tara Phillips (Houston, Texas) placed second overall with a career-best 9.85. That mark shattered her previous career-best of 9.625 and is also the highest vault score posted by a Wildcat gymnast this season.

On floor, UNH was again forced to count a fall as they posted a score of 48.125. Junior Erin Malinak (Pittsburgh, Pa.) recorded a 9.75 to finish fifth as the top Wildcat. Wagner registered a 9.725 to finish sixth overall.

Wrapping up on the balance beam, New Hampshire recorded a score of 48.275. Wagner was second with a career-high 9.825. A pair of freshmen also shone for the Wildcats, as Michelle Totz (Whitby, Ontario) tied for third with a 9.8, while Jayne Propert (Bradley Beach, N.J.) continued her strong performance on the beam this season with a 9.75. Propert's score was good for fifth.

The 192.975 score also helps UNH in terms of NCAA regional qualifying score. Entering the week the 'Cats were ranked fourth in the Northeast Region and Friday's score replaces a 191.450 recorded earlier in the season at Kentucky.

UNH travels to Maryland next weekend to compete at the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) championships at Towson University. That meet starts at 6 p.m. next Saturday, March 23.

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