UNH gymnastics narrowly defeats Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pa. - The University of New Hampshire women's gymnastics team defeated East Coast Atlantic League rivals, the Panthers of the University of Pittsburgh 194.700 to 194.275, Friday night at the Fitzgerald Field House.

Seniors Michelle Harley (Collegeville, Pa.) and Jen Dickson (Salisbury, Md.) tied for first place in the all-around competition with a score of 39.275, while UNH's Vanessa James (Malden, Mass.) set a new personal best with a 39.000 for fourth place in New Hampshire's narrow victory over the Panthers. Pittsburgh's Diandra O'Conner set a personal best to finish third.

"It took every single person to help win this meet tonight," said Head Coach Gail Goodspeed. "I'm thrilled with the performances Jen and Michelle gave tonight. Vanessa also did a great job. I knew she could perform at the level she did tonight all along, scoring a 39.000 is awesome."

The Wildcats started the meet on bars, where seniors Harley and Dickson tied for first place with a 9.850 along with Pittsburgh's O'Conner, to help the 'Cats recover from a shaky start.

UNH moved on to vault, where freshman Amanda Hall (Bremerton, Wash.) took first with a 9.900 to led the Wildcats in a team high score of 49.075. Junior Tara Phillips (Springs, Texas), who was pulled from bars because of illness, felt well enough to compete in the next rotation to earn a season high 9.875 and second place in the event. After two full rotations, the Wildcats led the meet by just one point.

For the third rotation, New Hampshire competed on floor. Dickson was the Wildcats top finisher with a score of 9.850, which tied her for third. Harley and James finished sixth and eighth respectively with scores of 9.775 and 9.725. Floor was the only event that Pittsburgh took from UNH, with a score of 49.225 to 48.350.

New Hampshire finished the meet on beam and the Wildcats pulled out all the stops with the meet on the line heading in to the final event. James competed first and set the tone for the Wildcats with 9.825. Harley set a personal best, finishing first with a 9.900, while sophomore Jayne Propert (Bradley Beach, N.J.) also set a personal best on beam with a 9.875 for third place finish.

The Wildcats return home on February 15, to host, Bowling Green, George Washington, and Michigan State in the Fox Run Invitational at the Whittemore Center Arena. The meet begins at 7 p.m.

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