Hawkins Crowned USAG Floor Champion, Smith Grabs Second on Vault
Saturday, April 19, 2008

SHREVEPORT—The Centenary gymnastics team finished its season yesterday, but six Ladies advanced to the individual event finals at the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships on Saturday. Sophomore Courtney Hawkins emerged as the Floor Exercise National Champion, while senior Meredith Smith narrowly missed collecting the second title of her career.


Hawkins bounced back after an upsetting performance on the vault earlier in the competition to score a 9.875 on the floor exercise to claim the title. Hawkins was the final competitor on the event and bested Annuka Almenoksa’s effort of 9.850.


On the vault, Hawkins threw up an impressive score on the first run, but in the event finals the gymnasts must complete two vaults. The average score of the two vaults becomes the official score.


Hawkins missed her mark on her cartwheel prior to hitting the spring board, which launched her over the side of the vault. Despite what looked like a dangerous landing, she hopped right up and was uninjured. However, her chances at winning a vault title were gone.


Smith brought the Ladies spirit right back after sticking her first vault. On her second vault, the Ladies lone senior went for the title, but could not hold her landing. As a result, she was forced to take a few steps to steady herself. The deductions for the extra steps would cost her the title, but she still finished in second place with a 9.737, just .05 behind Alise McDonald of Towson. Smith won the vault title in 2006.


Centenary’s lone representative on the bars, junior Julia Cornelius, put up a solid routine. She scored a 9.700 to tie for sixth.


On the floor, the Ladies had two more gymnasts advance to the finals in addition to Hawkins. Freshman Marisa Schneider placed fourth with a score of 9.800 and sophomore Whitney Daugherty took seventh place with a 9.750.


Freshman Laura Loy competed on the beam for Centenary, but did not fare well on Saturday. Unarguably the Ladies best beam worker on the season, the newcomer fell twice and placed 10th on the event.


All six Ladies that competed in the event finals earned first team USAG All-American honors for each event they participated in. Smith also received second team accolades on the floor exercise.