Ladies Advance to USAG Team Finals
Thursday, April 19, 2007

Files associated with this release:
USAG Session I Meet Results

Courtney Hawkins

Meredith Smith

Julia Cornelius

Kristina Menne

Mandy Bennett

SEATTLE—The Centenary gymnastics team pulled out a come-from-behind performance on Wednesday to take second place in their preliminary session and advance to the USA Gymnastics Team Championships. The fifth-seeded Ladies upset a third-seeded Rutgers squad to take second place on the back of a gutsy performance from freshman Courtney Hawkins. In all, five Centenary gymnasts were named All-Americans after finishing in the top five on their respective events.


Several early falls on the bars and beam set Centenary behind after two rotations. But the Ladies responded with strong efforts on their final four beam routines and scored a team score of 48.000 on the floor to close the gap behind Rutgers. Senior Kristina Menne received a 9.850 on the floor exercise to lead the Maroon and White charge.


Down to their final event and still trailing, an injured Hawkins would decide the fate of Centenary. After hyper-extending her elbow earlier in the afternoon, Hawkins received medical attention from the training staff on site. Hawkins was cleared to make her attempt on the vault, but was not sure if she could throw her normal difficult pass.


Four Ladies went ahead of Hawkins on the vault and four Scarlet Knights competed on the beam. With Hawkins’ turn in the line-up being called, it was decided the team needed the higher score, and thus, the freshman would be asked to attempt her big vault.


With the balance of the Ladies hopes on the line, Hawkins tore down the runway and launched into her dynamic vault, flipping through the air and landing squarely on the mat. The Centenary team exploded into congratulations as Hawkins was given a 9.875. Seconds later, defending Vault National Champion Meredith Smith, scored a solid 9.825. The two final vaults catapulted Centenary into the finals by .450 over Rutgers (189.950).


Hawkins not only gave the Ladies the big score they needed, but the injured performance was the top vault on the evening of all performers. Smith’s effort placed her third on the event and both will advance to the individual event finals on Saturday.


Other individuals that will join Hawkins and Smith in Saturday’s finals include Julia Cornelius, Mandy Bennett, and Menne. Cornelius’ 9.775 on the uneven bars landed her in a tie for first place and she also scored a 9.750 on the beam for a tie at the top spot on that apparatus. Bennett earned a 9.675 on the bars for fifth place and Menne totaled a score of 38.750 for third in the all-around. In addition, her score on the floor was good enough for third place.


Towson took first place in the session with a team score of 194.475 while Temple placed fourth with a 187.500.


The Ladies will compete in the team finals Thursday night at 7 p.m. (Pacific) against the top two finishers from Session II, which consists of Texas Woman’s University, Seattle Pacific, Cornell, and William & Mary.