Centenary Gymnastics Holds Intrasquad
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Centenary Ladies gymnastics team recently competed in their final tune-up before finals and the upcoming holiday break.  This was a great opportunity for the team to perform full routines and fight for a spot in the line-up.  Head coach Bill Hardy is optimistic with the progress the team has shown to this point.  

On vault, the team is much improved this year and the line-up should include four vaults with a 10.0 start value (SV) and none lower than a 9.8 SV.  The line-up should be led by senior Meredith Smith and sophomore Courtney Hawkins, both of whom were USAG All-Americans in 2007.  Freshman Tara Sandoval is also expected to contribute with a nice yurchenko 1/1.  According to Coach Hardy, “The level of difficult is greatly improved this season and Meredith, Courtney and Tara should all be able to put up solid scores.”

(Vault Top Score: Meredith Smith – Nice layout Phelps with solid landing – 9.75)

The uneven bars were a real stressful event in 2007 for the Ladies with only five competitors for the entire season.  With eight gymnasts competing full routines with nice difficulty, this event should be stronger with the added depth.

“Last year every routine had to count and that put a ton of pressure on the competitors.  This year we should be able to be more aggressive and go for the bigger routines,” says Hardy.  

Juniors Mandy Bennett and Julia Cornelius should contribute big on this event joined by freshmen Makensie Lant, Marisa Schneider, and Tara Sandoval.  Sandoval has a unique routine with a high level of difficulty and should be a real surprise for the Ladies. There were a few mistakes on bonus combinations in the intrasquad and a fall or two that should be corrected with more reps. 

(Uneven Bars Top Scores: Marisa Schneider – 9.425, Mandy Bennett -9.35)

Balance beam was very inconsistent for the team in 2007.  This year, with the addition of a good group of freshmen and some strong leadership from the upper classmen, the beam line-up should be solid.  The line-up will be anchored by freshman Laura Loy and junior Julia Cornelius.  Freshman Alyssa Zaweija should also be a mainstay in the line-up.  Cornelius and Loy both had a few problems in the scrimmage, but still showed the potential to put up a big score.  

“We had a few problems this evening, but overall I think we have the potential to be very consistent on the beam this season,” says Hardy.   

(Balance Beam Top Scores: Meredith Smith – 9.6; Julia Cornelius – 9.55; Alyssa Zaweija – 9.55)

The team saved its best performance for the last event.  The Ladies had nine members compete full floor routines and the floor exercise should be exciting this season. 

“With five of the six projected line-up finishing with “D” tumbling passes and very crowd friendly dancing, the floor is way ahead of last year at this point, said Hardy. “The floor line-up is going to be great this year.  The tumbling is big, the dance is fun, and the presentation is getting better.  This is by far the most talented floor line-up we have ever had.”

Sophomore Courtney Hawkins nailed all three tumbling passes and looked 100% ready to compete.  Freshman Marisa Schneider and freshman Maille Vetros both looked very confident and solid as well.

(Floor Exercise Top Scores: Courtney Hawkins – 9.825;  Marisa Schneider – 9.8;  Maille Vetros – 9.75)

The outlook for this season is very bright. The Ladies should be much improved and compete with great depth, difficulty, and confidence. Freshman All-Arounder Tara Sandoval (who was limited on this night by an ankle injury that happened earlier in the week) should make an immediate impact on all four events and raise the level of difficulty for the team. The combination of proven upper classmen and a very large talented group of freshmen should be a recipe for one of the most successful teams ever at Centenary.  The Ladies hope to stay healthy and have one of their best seasons ever.  With Centenary hosting the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Nationals this season, and after last years third place finish in the team competition, the Ladies have set out to be a serious contender for the championship title in April 2008.