Gymnastics Heads to EAGL Championship at North Carolina (March 23, 2 p.m.)

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2013 EAGL Championship
Saturday, March 23, 2013 • 2 p.m.
Carmichael Arena • Chapel Hill, N.C.
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Austyn Fobes
Kayla Gray
Hannah Barile

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire gymnastics team ventures to the University of North Carolina for the 2013 East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Championship on Saturday, March 23, at 2 p.m. The co-37th-ranked Wildcats need a high score to crack the Top 36 in order to qualify for the NCAA Regional Championships for the 30th time in 31 years.

LAST TIME OUT (March 15, 2013) – KENT, Ohio - The UNH gymnastics team scored a 194.675 to finish in second place at Friday night's Kent State quad-meet at the MAC Center. The Wildcats conclude the regular season with a record of 17-7 following wins over Southeast Missouri State (194.025) and Cornell (192.450) and a loss to the host and 22nd-ranked Golden Flashes (195.975).

The Wildcats started the meet strong with first-place finishes on floor exercise from Erika Rudiger (Slidell, La.) andHannah Barile (Sinking Spring, Pa.), who totaled matching marks of 9.825 as part of a four-way deadlock for gold. Erin Machado (Swansea, Mass.) and Kayla Gray (Buffalo, N.Y.) shared fifth place with scores of 9.800 as the floor lineup finished with an impressive 48.925 for first place in that event.

Courtney Connors (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Barile led the way on vault with co-team high scores of 9.775 to tie for sixth place. 

UNH ran into trouble in the third rotation on uneven bars. Despite early lineup setbacks, Austyn Fobes (Howell, N.J.) stepped up with a 9.825 to earn a share of third place, and senior classmate Jen Aucoin (Mullica Hill, N.J.) supported that performance by turning in a 9.775 (tie, eighth).

The highlight of the night occurred on balance beam when Gray performed an outstanding routine for a personal-best and first-place 9.950, marking her third straight meet at 9.900 or above on beam. Jannelle Minichiello (Tewksbury, Mass.) wrapped up a tie for third place with a career-high 9.900. 

Fobes was the meet's all-around champion with a 38.950.

2012 EAGL CHAMPIONSHIP (March 24, 2012) - PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Austyn Fobes (Howell, N.J.) registered a personal-best 9.900 on floor exercise to cap the University of New Hampshire gymnastics team's highest floor score of the season and a team total of 195.225 for sixth place at the 2012 EAGL Championship, held Saturday afternoon at the University of Pittsburgh's Fitzgerald Field House.

West Virginia won the EAGL Championship with a total of 196.475. North Carolina State (196.000) finished in second place, followed by Maryland (195.950), North Carolina (195.550) and Pittsburgh (195.375). The Wildcats (14-10, 6-6 EAGL) earned wins over George Washington (194.050) and Rutgers (193.850).

Kayla Gray (Buffalo, N.Y.) was named to the EAGL All-Tournament First Team on balance beam (second place) and Second Team on floor (T-16th place). Fobes was tabbed to the EAGL All-Tournament First Team on floor by tying for second place, and she gathered All-Tournament Second Team in the all-around (T-ninth place). Danielle Reibold (Horsham, Pa.) garnered All-Tournament First Team on uneven bars (T-2nd) and Second Team on beam (T-10th). Ali Carr (Chelmsford, Mass.) earned All-Tournament Second Team on vault (T-14th) and bars (T-10th), and Jen Aucoin (Mullica Hill, N.J.) took home Second Team on bars (T-10th).

UNH began the meet on vault with All-EAGL Second Team performers Carr and Jillian Hudson (Sparkill, N.Y.) leading the way. Carr hit for a team-high 9.800 and Hudson added a 9.775 as UNH totaled a 48.775 for second place through one rotation.

After a bye in the second rotation dropped UNH to fourth place, Reibold spearheaded UNH's bar efforts with a personal-best-tying 9.875, complemented by Carr and Aucoin, who collected matching scores of 9.800. The Wildcats amassed a team score of 48.600 on bars to grab a hold of third place with a 97.375.

New Hampshire, which dipped to fifth place during a fourth-rotation bye, next turned its attention to balance beam, where Gray turned in an incredible performance for a team-leading 9.850. Reibold also performed strongly to notch a 9.775, and Jannelle Minichiello (Orlando, Fla.) garnered a 9.700 to help the 'Cats compile a 48.650 and an aggregate total of 146.025 for fourth place through five rotations.

The 'Cats saved their best for last by recording a season-best 49.175 on floor. Gray tied her career high with a 9.850, Kate McGeever (Saco, Maine) registered a 9.825 for her highest mark since Feb. 10, while Hannah Barile (Sinking Spring, Pa.) and Erin Machado (Swansea, Mass.) both secured scores of 9.800.

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE – UNH boasted a league-leading 16 members of the EAGL All-Academic Team, announced March 18. Senior co-captain Courtney Connors, a business administration: accounting major, was feted for the fourth straight year. Senior co-captain Jen Aucoin (Mullica Hill, N.J.), a nutrition & wellness major, earned all-academic honors for the third straight year. Other three-time honorees are juniors Hannah Barile (Sinking Spring, Pa./kinesiology: exercise science), Jillian Hudson (Sparkill, N.Y./nutrition), Erin Machado (Swansea, Mass./biomedical science) and Jannelle Minichiello (Tewksbury, Mass./psychology, business).

Sophomore Kayla Gray (Buffalo, N.Y./kinesiology: exercise science) made it back-to-back years on the all-academic squad, joining senior and first-time recipient Becca Marrama (Lynnfield, Mass./nutrition & wellness) and eight members of the freshman class: Catarina Broccoli (Mystic, Conn./undeclared); Lauren Brodie (Mogadore, Ohio/undeclared); Rebekah Bubnar (Granville, Ohio/environmental conservation studies); Cassy Izzo (Cranston, R.I./biology); Brittany Prestia (Harleysville, Pa./undeclared); Alexa Profit (St. James, N.Y./recreation management & policy); Elissa Solomon (Ridgefield, Conn./kinesiology: exercise science) and Courtney Thompson (Chester, N.H./undeclared).

EAGL HISTORY - The Wildcats won their lone EAGL championship in 2003 with a 196.750 at the Whittemore Center. New Hampshire has eclipsed the 195.000 mark in each of the last two years at EAGLs, finishing runner-up to North Carolina in 2011 (195.175) and bettering that score with a 195.225 in 2012 for sixth place. West Virginia won last year's title with a 196.475, which means there will be a new champion this year. The Mountaineers departed EAGL to join the Big 12 in '13.

NCAA IMPLICATIONS - The co-37th-ranked Wildcats will be among a slew of EAGL programs looking to solidify a spot in the "Field of 36" for the NCAA Regionals. No. 22 Maryland and No. 30 North Carolina State appear to be locks for the postseason, but fellow league teams North Carolina (No. 33), Pittsburgh (No. 35), George Washington (T-37th) and Rutgers (No. 39) are vying along with UNH for the few remaining bids.

EAGL ROTATION: - The Wildcats will begin Saturday's EAGL Championship on a bye in the opening rotation before starting competition on its strongest event, floor exercise, in the second rotation. The Wildcats are ranked second in EAGL on floor with a 49.100 Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). Hannah Barile is ranked fifth in the league on FX with a 9.860 RQS, while Austyn Fobes and Kayla Gray are tied for 10th (9.85 RQS).

UNH will get another bye in the third rotation before heading to vault for the fourth rotation. The 'Cats are ranked fifth in this event (48.730 RQS), led by Barile, EAGL's co-No. 10 gymnast on vault with a 9.810 RQS. Fobes is tied for 15th (9.790).

Following a fifth-rotation bye, New Hampshire will go to uneven bars in rotation six. This has been a trouble spot for the Wildcats, who are ranked seventh (48.640 RQS) among EAGL's eight schools. UNH will be relying on the league's third-ranked bar competitor, Fobes (9.845 RQS), to put on a strong effort. Co-No. 9 Jen Aucoin (9.795 RQS) and No. 17 Erika Rudiger (9.770 RQS) will also need to contribute.

New Hampshire's final bye is in the seventh rotation, followed by an eighth and final rotation on balance beam. The Wildcats are sixth in EAGL with a 48.645 RQS on beam, so they will depend on the continued hot streak of Gray, the league's second-ranked beam gymnast (9.880 RQS) to be on her game. The sophomore has peaked at the right time, with three straight first-place marks of 9.900 or higher, culminating in a personal-best 9.950 in capturing gold at 22nd-ranked Kent State's March 15 quad-meet.

SCOUTING GEORGE WASHINGTON: The Colonials (14-15, 4-8 EAGL) are led by senior Stephanie Stoicovy, the league's co-third-ranked floor exercise performer (9.870 RQS). UNH defeated GW, 195.425-194.750, in their lone matchup during the regular season at Lundholm Gym as part of the February 3. Stick It For the Cure meet.

SCOUTING MARYLAND: The 22nd-ranked Terrapins (18-3-1, 11-1-1 EAGL) are the prohibitive favorites as the only EAGL team ranked in the GymInfo Top-25. The Terps are the league's No. 1 team on vault, balance beam and floor exercise, and their deep roster includes Katy Dodds (No. 1 vault, 9.920 RQS), Stephanie Giameo (No. 1 beam, 9.950 RQS) and Ally Krikorian (No. 1 floor, 9.905 RQS). The Terps defeated the Wildcats in a quad-meet at College Park, Md., on Feb. 8.

SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA: The host Tar Heels (13-7, 5-5 EAGL) have won two of the last three EAGL titles and will have the added benefit of competing in their home arena. UNC possesses the league's No. 1 uneven-bar lineup with an RQS of 48.970. Senior Elizabeth Durkac, a four-time EAGL Gymnast of the Week, leads the way with the top ranking on bars (9.855 RQS). The 'Cats and Heels did not square off during the regular season.

SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA STATE: The Wolfpack (11-9-1, 5-3-1), the preseason No. 1 in the EAGL Coaches' Poll, will be right in the mix for its first league title since 2009. Freshman Brittni Watkins has been the EAGL Rookie of the Week on two occasions, and senior Rachel Fincham is ranked second in the league on uneven bars (9.850 RQS). UNH knocked off then-NO. 19 N.C. State in a dual-meet at Lundholm Gym on Jan.18, but the Wolfpack exacted revenge during the Maryland quad-meet Feb. 8.

SCOUTING PITTSBURGH: The Panthers (12-12, 4-5 EAGL) are trying to fend off the Wildcats in the battle for an NCAA Regional berth. Pitt, at No. 33, is just 0.23 RQS points ahead of UNH. Laura Kummerle powers the Panthers' beam team (No. 3, 9.835 RQS), while two-time EAGL Freshman of the Week Lindsey Offutt is tied for No. 3 on floor exercise (9.870 RQS). UNH and Pitt did not meet this season.

SCOUTING RUTGERS: The Scarlet Knights (12-12, 2-4 EAGL), ranked 39th, will be competing with a strong sense of urgency. Senior Luisa Leal has reeled off back-to-back all-around marks in excess of 39.000, including a school-record 39.500 on March 8 to earn EAGL Gymnast of the Week honors. The Wildcats opened the '13 season with a dual-meet win over the Scarlet Knights in Durham.

SCOUTING TOWSON: In their first season back in EAGL since 2004, the Tigers (12-15, 0-9 EAGL) have found the going rough. Towson is winless in league competition, including 0-3 vs New Hampshire, but the Tigers' roster includes one of the EAGL's top freshmen in Abby Griswold.

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