DURHAM, N.H.-- The University of New Hampshire women's gymnastics team is set to open its 2008 campaign with an away meet at Rutgers with Bridgeport on Jan. 5 and the squad will compete in its home-opener vs. Rhode Island on Jan.11. The competition begins at 7 p.m. in Lundholm Gymnasium. Tickets for home gymnastics meets can be purchased online at www.unhwildcats.com.
    The 2008 Wildcats are led by an experienced and dedicated group of seniors.  Rebecca Porter, Beth Bronson, Fairen Plummer, and Katelyn Schenkel have all been strong contributors to the program, and have repeatedly illustrated that they can excel academically and athletically.
    Co-Captain Porter is a leader in the gym and in the classroom.  She will be called upon to compete solid routines on vault, bars, and floor exercise. Porter is an exceptional student-athlete who brings her best to the gym and classroom every day. Bronson has really stepped up her training this year and has the potential to contribute immensely on all four events. She has added difficulty to three out of four events, and intends to make a major impact this year.  Plummer has been hampered by a shoulder injury, but will be counted upon for her entertaining and “fun” floor exercise routine. Schenkel is an elegant gymnast who will contribute a solid vault.  She has the skill and capability to be a factor in the bars and beam line-up and score very high on any of her three events.  This class has the experience and talent to do it all. 
    The junior class will be sharing some of the leadership role as Co-Captain Lindsay Kovary, Melissa César, and Justine Turner head into their third season as Wildcats. Kovary worked extremely hard during the off season and has improved her power and stamina. Kovary is looking towards competing on floor exercise and has upgraded her beam routine in hopes of challenging the top beam workers for a spot in the line-up. Cesar has come back from her summer training in Venezuela ready for pre-season training, and with her innate gymnastics ability, she could be the surprise performer of the year. She has the ability to compete on all four events with bars and beam being on a level with the best in the country. Turner has come out of a successful sophomore year as an all-around athlete and will continue that accomplishment into this year’s competition. She will be a key component on all four events and a leader on the competitive floor this season. Turner has the motivation to be one of UNH’s top all time all-around gymnasts.
    The sophomore class has a year of competition behind them, and saw what it takes to compete with the best in the nation. They will use that as motivation to take UNH gymnastics to a whole new level.  The sophomore class looks to continue their trend of being our most consistent performers; continuing to raise the standard of “hitting routines”.  Helena Diodati is prepared for a breakthrough year.  She is a steady athlete who has trained during the off season to be a top ranked all-around athlete for the University of New Hampshire. As the top performer on vault and bars last year, Diodati earned the MVP award. The addition of outstanding routines on beam and floor put her in contention for an all-around spot. Diodati is one to watch this year. Diane Grey has also trained throughout the summer and will look to further increase her impact on the team. Grey, along with Diodati, was a top vault and bar competitor last year, and looks to add a very strong floor exercise routine to this year‘s line-up. Last year’s first year class was balanced nicely by the beam and floor routines of Keeley Smith and Taryn LaFountain complimenting Diodati and Grey on vault and bars. Lafountain will once again be a leader on beam and will anchor the line-up. She has increased her difficulty in tumbling and dance as well, and will be a strong competitor on floor. Smith has returned with new choreography on floor exercise that will “floor” the competition and wow the audience. She is a true performer on floor exercise and a fan favorite. Smith is a strong beam competitor and has added some difficulty there as well. She is knocking on the door for the bars line-up, and will be a contender throughout the season on this event.   Kelsey Alwin has recovered from a rough first year where shin splints impeded her progress and she is ready to compete to her potential. She will definitely be a strong contributor on vault and has the ability to make the line-up on the other events as well. She has great tumbling skills and can swing bars with the best. Expect her to make an impact as her routines get solid. Rounding out the sophomore class is Jen Liston, who is a strong tumbler and has beautiful lines on both floor and beam. Consistency has plagued her in the past, but she has worked hard and is showing she could be a factor in the vault, beam, and floor line-ups.
    The first year class may be short on experience as collegiate athletes, but they are a dynamic group of young student-athletes eager to join the ranks of the UNH Wildcat Gymnastics Family. Their enthusiasm and positive personalities has shown in early training sessions, and they can definitely be a force in bringing the team to a higher level of success. Chelsea Steinberg will make an immediate impact with great routines on beam and vault. She will be among our top performers on those events and has the skill level to work into the floor line-up as well. Consistency in her tumbling will be the key for Steinberg and once she accomplishes that, “look out”. She is dynamic, brings her personality to each event, and could also surprise many people with her bar routine. Katie Caliendo has the ability to break into the line-up on three events. Her vaulting has taken a huge leap forward and should be a key to a great vault line-up. Balance beam and floor exercise are strong events for Caliendo, and she has the capabilities to contribute on both events and score well. Janae Sernoffsky has been slowed by a knee injury, but should be able to come back and challenge for a spot on bars as well as beam and floor. Taryn Archambault is a powerful athlete with great potential on vault and floor. She needs to continue to add difficulty and consistency to her gymnastics to see action in those events. Annalea Fink and Andie Sablosky are similar to Archambault and have the power and explosiveness it takes to be a top gymnast at the collegiate level. Experience and continued hard work will help them contribute to UNH gymnastics success. Mollyrose Newbury brings the other component of gymnastics abilities to the table, an elegant line showcasing beautiful leaps and jumps.  As she develops the power and speed to compete the high level skills, she should be able to step into the line-up with beam as her best opportunity.
    Experience and leadership from the upperclassmen and enthusiasm and a strong desire to succeed from our younger student-athletes should enable the 2008 University of New Hampshire Women’s Gymnastics Team be among the best. The 2007-2008 Wildcats have embraced dedication and hard training to be at their best, which is paying off in the gym on a daily basis.  “Train Hard – Play Hard” is the slogan to work hard in our conditioning and gymnastics so the end result is “fun and success” in our practices and competitions.
    The team will have a number of challenges this year.  Coming to the Durham, NH campus will be great teams from North Carolina State, Maryland, Penn State, Brigham Young University, Bridgeport, Brown, Yale, William and Mary, Rhode Island, Pittsburgh, and Alaska. The team will be traveling to Rutgers, Minnesota, Utah State, the University of North Carolina, and West Virginia for the dual meet season, and finally competing at the EAGL championship at West Virginia University.
    Qualification to the NCAA Regional meet will be a straight formula for the Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) counting the top 6 scores, with at least three of those from away meets, dropping the highest score and averaging the remaining five. When the RQS is determined the top 36 teams will qualify to the NCAA Regional meets with the top 18 seeded into the six sites. The NCAA National Championships will feature the top two teams from each of the Regional meets, the top two individual all-arounders, who are not part of an advancing team, and any individual Regional event winners who are not part of a team or an all-around qualifier. The 2008 Championship will be held from April24 -26th at the University of Georgia.
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