DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire gymnastics team finished the season ranked 25th in the nation, the program's top year-end ranking since its best-ever No. 12 finish in 1994. The Wildcats, who won the second East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Championship in school history March 22 at the Whittemore Center, registered a 21-4 record and capped the year with a fifth-place finish in Saturday's NCAA University Park Regional on the campus of Penn State University.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats topped the 195-point mark for the ninth time in their final 10 meets by amassing a 195.025 at Recreation Hall on April 5. Top-ranked and defending national champion Florida won the Regional with a 197.050, and 12th-ranked Penn State scored a 196.725 to join the Gators in qualifying for the NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Ala., from April 18-20.
After starting the season with a 2-3 record in January, New Hampshire turned the corner Feb. 1. The 'Cats defeated 19 of their final 20 opponents in the regular season and hit at least 23 of 24 events in each of their final nine meets. UNH compiled a 195.880 Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) with a season-high 196.675 (March 8) and an average score of 194.867. The Wildcats earned the Northeast Region's No. 3 ranking, behind eighth-ranked and Athens Regional champion Michigan (197.105 RQS) and Penn State (196.475 RQS).
On Saturday, Meghan Pflieger (Barneveld, N.Y.) shook off the effects of a virus that kept her out of most practices over the past two weeks to deliver a personal-best 9.875 on vault, which tied for seventh place. Pflieger competed all-around and tied for ninth place with a 39.050.
Kayla Gray (Buffalo, N.Y.), who battled a back injury all season that limited her to one event, made the most of that event: Gray, EAGL's No. 1 and the Northeast Region's No. 2 balance beam gymnast (9.860 Regional Qualifying Score), tallied a 9.800 on beam to tie for ninth place.
Senior co-captain Erin Machado (Swansea, Mass.), who garnered All-EAGL First Team on floor, finished the year ranked eighth in the Northeast with a 9.860 RQS.
Associate head coach Ed Datti and assistant coach Ali Carr were recognized Saturday as the Northeast Region Assistant Coaches of the Year, and associate athletic director for operations Carrie Kimball garnered Northeast Region Administrator of the Year honors.
UNH qualified for the NCAA Regionals for the 31st time in the last 33 years and competed in the postseason for the 33rd time in head coach Gail Goodspeed's 35 seasons.