by David F. Pendrys [Full Results from UNH
BOSTON, MA- UNH opened the 2016 competition season in Boston hosting George Washington and Rutgers, two familiar opponents, even though Rutgers has moved on to the Big 10 for a conference. While there was a positive result for all three teams, GW carried the day with a 196.175 avoiding falls on all 24 of their counted routines on a way to the win. UNH scored a 195.1 after having to count a fall on the floor exercise, but nonetheless had a ton of solid scores. Rutgers put up a 193.1 brought about by having to count falls on both Bars and Beam, but numerous signs for optimism.
“Overall, we did incredible.” GW junior Alex DeMoura recounted. “It was a great start for our team. We were really consistent on all of the events. All of us hit our routines. It was really clean. We also have some minor things to clean up, but for the first meet we really started off solid.”
“The first three events, we were solid all away across the board, and we had a couple of mistakes on Floor,” UNH Coach Gail Goodspeed explained. “We had to count a fall on Floor which is significant. Going into Floor I thought we had a shot at it. With two mistakes, you can’t win a meet with a mistake on Floor.”
“I felt like the hard work’s finally paid off. It was a great start to a great season,” UNH senior Kelsey Aucoin remarked. “It’s probably best we’ve ever had. So I’m really proud of the teamwork that we showed today,” she added. Her teammate, sophomore Casey Lauter agreed saying that the team “had a great first meet. 195 is awesome for a first meet score.”
GW’s Jillian Winstanley flew to a 9.925 on Vault to win 1st place, edging teammate Cami Drouin-Allaire and Rutgers gymnast and Mass native April Baker who each had 9.9s. Elizabeth Mahoney hit UNH’s top score of 9.825 as did GW’s Chelsea Raineri.
“Vault is one of our strongest events,” DeMoura said. “We really nailed a lot of landings, and we were really clean. It’s really powerful event for us.”
UNH’s Danielle Mulligan and Winstanley shared first on Uneven Bars each swinging to a 9.9. Fellow Wildcat Jen King had a 9.85 as did GW’s Liz Pfeiler. RU’s Charly Santagado put up a 9.825, as did GW’s Alex DeMoura and Jess Gracia from UNH.
UNH’s Aucoin and Lauter, as well as Sara Mermelstein and DeMoura of GW all shared first on Beam all holding steady for 9.875 scores. Pfeiler had the second highest score of the meet with her 9.85. Claudia Salinas was the best Rutgers score of 9,825, which she shared with UNH’s Lia Breeden and Meghan Pflieger.
“Moving on to Beam. We were very clean and consistent,” DeMoura outlined. “Just keeping us calm and motivated on the Beam really allowed us to hit all of our cues and everything we wanted to do. SO it was an awesome overall for all of us.” She went on to describe her performance as “really fluid and consistent. I was proud of myself. I think overall I did really well.”
Lauter won floor outright scoring a 9.85 ahead of Drouin-Allaire’s 9.825. Pflieger and Nicole O’Leary from the Wildcats and Raineri all had 9.8s for the third best score. Riahanah Ali posted her team’s high score of 9.775 for Rutgers. Mermelstein and Aucoin also flipped to that score too.
“I felt I had a good first meet. It was really exciting to be out there with the team again,” Lauter said when asked about her performance.
Lauter was one of many UNH freshmen that contributed to the Wildcat lineup. “Our freshman have been great,” Goodspeed said. “We actually have nine freshman on the team, and five of them are in the competitive lineup.”
Winstanley snagged the All Around title as her 39.350 was slightly ahead of Drouin-Allaire’s 39.3, and Lauter’s 39.2. DeMoura put up a 39.15, Pflieger a 38.9, Danielle Doolin of UNH a 38.2, and Libby Groden was RU’s best in AA with a 37.750.
“We’re just going to go into the week really focusing on details,” DeMoura said looking to the future “So cleaning up the little minor executions we can find and fix in everybody’s routines so overall the judge’s can’t take anything from us.”
“The routines are pretty solid,” Goodspeed analyzed when asked about next steps. “Now we gotta work on as always sticking dismounts, hitting handstands, sticking our vaults, being cleaner at what we’re doing. Execution is the name of the game for us, which is great, because usually that’s mid-year we’re talking about execution, and we’re just trying to hit sets. Our Floor routines are new. Our mistakes on Floor were actually two freshman that went too hard and not too easy so that’s ok.”
“I think it was a great meet,” Coach Goodspeed said overall. “It was really fun to be in Boston and have all the gymnasts watching, and three great teams.”
Playlist of all routines and interviews: