ANN ARBOR, MICH—The No. 5-seeded University of New Hampshire women’s gymnastics team placed fourth out of six teams competing at the NCAA Northeast Regional held at in Crisler Arena at the University of Michigan on Saturday evening.

The Wildcats finished the meet with a solid team score of 192.925, the team’s second-highest road score of the 2007 season.

The top two teams, Florida and Michigan, move on to the NCAA National Championships at Utah on April 26-28. The Gators won the meet (197.325), followed by the Wolverines (196.050), Arkansas (195.275), UNH, Pittsburgh (192.550), and then Rutgers (190.875).

UNH began the evening with the floor exercise, where the scores were lower than during the regular season, but the Wildcats completed all of their routines without any major mistakes. Leading the squad was junior Fairen Plummer (Louisville, Ky.) who recorded a top score of 9.725 for the ‘Cats. Freshman Keeley Smith (University Place, Wash.) also was solid for UNH with a score of 9.65, while senior Heather Moore (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) and junior Justine Turner (Salem, N.H.) each recorded identical scores of 9.625.

The Wildcats immediately moved onto vault in their second rotation, where for the second consecutive meet, senior Jennifer Jones (Billerica, Mass.) was impressive and set a positive tone as the first vaulter, recording the second-highest mark for the Wildcats of 9.75, just missing her season high of 9.775.  The high mark of the evening for the ‘Cats was turned in by freshman Helena Diodati (Scarborough, Maine) as she tied her career-high of  9.825.  

                When the Wildcats headed into their first bye after two events complete, UNH did not count any scores below a 9.55. Turner tweaked her already painful knee (not seriously) and was scratched from the bars competition. After all six teams had completed two events, UNH was sitting in fourth place with 96.7 points. No. 1 Florida was first (98.5), followed by Michigan (98.075) and Arkansas (97.9). The Wildcats were ahead of Pittsburgh (95.95) and Rutgers (94.375), both EAGL Conference teams.

                On bars, UNH counted one fall, but finished strong, with the final four gymnasts nailing their routines. Diodati, as she has all season, stayed consistent and led the Wildcats with a high score of 9.75. Also earning loud cheers from her teammates was junior Rebekah Porter (Valparaiso, Ind.) as she recorded a solid mark of 9.625.

                The final event for UNH was balance beam and if the team could count no falls, it was very possible that the ‘Cats could move up to a fourth-place finish after being in the midst of a close battle with EAGL rival Pittsburgh, which finished on bars in the final rotation. UNH took care of business, suffering just one fall and not counting the low score. Leading the team was Smith with an impressive score of 9.85 to tie her for sixth place. . Not far behind her was junior Beth Bronson (Jacksonville, Fla.) with a 9.8 and freshman Taryn LaFountain (Utica, N.Y.) with a 9.775.

                Pitt finished strong on bars and actually led after three complete events (144.425-144.150). But UNH’s team score of 48.775 on beam was good enough to earn the Wildcats fourth place, one spot higher than the team was seeded (fifth).

                Diodati had the most impressive night for the ‘Cats, placing in a tie for 12th in vault and tied for 11th on bars.

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