DURHAM, N.H. -- Not often can a team count on rookies to step in and make an immediate impact. Luckily for the University of New Hampshire gymnastics team, it does have that luxury and fans will have an opportunity to see these young freshmen compete for three straight weekends, as the Wildcats compete at home on Feb. 4 vs. Denver, Feb. 10 in the Fox Run Invitational and Feb. 17 vs. Maryland.
In the fall, six freshmen arrived in Durham to become a part of the gymnastics family this season, and thus far, all six have contributed in some way.
From day one, Taryn LaFountain (Utica, N.Y.) has been helping to guide this freshman class. In the season-opening meet vs. Rutgers University on Jan. 6, LaFountain opened her UNH career by placing fourth in the floor exercise (9.600) and then grabbing first place on the balance beam with a score of 9.725 to help lead the Wildcats to a 191.775-190.125 win. When the ‘Cats placed second in a quad meet Jan. 12 with the University of Rhode Island, Yale University and Rutgers, LaFountain finished in second place on the beam with a score of 9.850. After a week in which she finished sixth on the beam (9.675) against the University of Denver on Jan. 20, LaFountain came back strong Jan. 27 in a tri meet with the University of Pittsburgh and Air Force University when she grabbed a share of first place on the beam with a score of 9.800.
Also helping to lead the freshmen ‘Cats has been Helena Diodati (Scarborough, Maine). Diodati opened her collegiate career in impressive fashion, placing first on the bars with a score of 9.800 against Rutgers. She notched the top spot on bars again a week later at the quad meet with a 9.650. In a road loss to Denver, Diodati placed fourth in the vault (9.800) and scored a 9.775 on the bars to place fifth. Most recently against Pitt and Air Force, Diodati placed third in the vault with a 9.725 and fourth on the bars with a 9.700.
Diane Grey (Spring, Texas) has also paced the ‘Cats to start the season. After a hot start in which she placed fourth in the vault (9.750) and second on the bars (9.750) against Rutgers, Grey placed sixth in the vault (9.625) in the Jan. 27 tri-meet.
The young season has gone much the same for Keeley Smith (University Place, Wash.). After placing second on the beam against Rutgers with a 9.675, Smith recorded average performances in her next two meets before taking second place in the floor exercise (9.700) and third on the beam (9.750).
Kelsey Alwin (St. Michael, Minn.), while battling illness and injuries, has had a pair of solid performances this season, placing sixth in the vault (9.750) against Denver and taking fourth place in the vault (9.700) Jan. 27.
Competing and working her way into the Wildcat lineup has been Jennifer Liston (North Yarmouth, Maine) who scored a 9.7 on beam against Denver.