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A promising outlook for Gymnastics

Mackenzie Hurlbert | General Assignment Reporter So. Jenny Kaufman, Jr. Brianna Ecklof, and Fr. Rachel de la Torre are excited to begin the 2013 season.

Mackenzie Hurlbert – General Assignment Reporter

After last season’s success and this year’s new addition of seven freshmen, Southern’s gymnastics team, now totaling 21 women, is ready to conquer. With one meet under their belts and another against Yale Sunday, Jan. 20, players and coaches alike are preparing for a successful season.

“The main goal for the team is to try to qualify to the national championships, either as a team or with as many individuals as possible,” said Coach Jerry Nelson. “Last year we set our record for nine individuals qualifying, but our

Mackenzie Hurlbert | General Assignment ReporterSo. Jenny Kaufman, Jr. Brianna Ecklof, and Fr. Rachel de la Torre are excited to begin the 2013 season.
Mackenzie Hurlbert | General Assignment Reporter
So. Jenny Kaufman, Jr. Brianna Ecklof, and Fr. Rachel de la Torre are excited to begin the 2013 season.

major goal is to qualify as a team.” In order for the entire team to qualify for nationals, Southern must place within the top eight of the national conference.

“We’re against many Division 1 teams, such as Yale, Cornell, Brown, and Temple University, so to place top eight in our league is not always easy,” said Nelson.

Along with last year’s successful outcome of nine individuals qualifying for Nationals, the team broke yet another record.

“We had a team last year that set the team scoring record, a new record for team score and a new record on two of the four events. We had individuals break records also on bars and on vaulting,” Nelson said. “We’re coming off a very strong season last year and a very strong spot.”

Senior captain Rebecca Brady said preparation for this season has consisted of practices and conditioning.

“We came back Jan. 1 and we started working out really, really hard,” said Brady. “We just start training right when we get back. A lot of conditioning, a lot of endurance, it’s pretty brutal but it’s what we have to do.”

Fellow captain Gabriella Hude is setting goals for herself and the team,

“As a team we want to qualify to Nationals, and personally I’d like to hit all the events I compete on so I can help benefit my team and get them closer to Nationals,” Hude said.

Hude competes in the floor and bar events.

“We just had our first meet last week in Springfield, and we did awesome,” said Brady. “We just had a few mistakes on beam but it was our first event so we got a lot of our jitters out, and the next three events we did great.  We had a lot of fun, we beat Springfield, and we put up the highest team score.”

On Sunday, Jan. 20, the gymnastics team will face cross-town rival Yale in a home meet.

“We love home meets,” said Hude,  “because we have a lot of supporters and a lot of fans come out so it gets the energy really high, and that helps us when we are performing…All the hard work that everyone’s been putting into practice has been showing off at the meets.”

Coach Nelson said about seven of the nine individuals who qualified for Nationals last year are back and are definite players to watch this season.

“Brianna Ecklof was a second team all American on floor last year, and Rebecca Brady who has the school record on two events, was a first team all American last year,” he said. “We also have seven freshmen on the squad this year, and they’ve already proved themselves worthy competitors.”

“We’re all pretty energetic,” said Brady about the team’s chemistry. “At meets you kind of have to be. We encourage cheering and being supportive towards each other, and if you don’t get put in the line-up you have to be supportive, and that it’s about the team, it’s not about you anymore. We have team gatherings, and we mesh really well at practice.”

“Everyone supports each other and cheers for each other,” said Hude. “Everyone wants the best for their teammate and it helps our performances because you have this big support group that wants you to do your best. It’s very encouraging.”

“We have a good group of leaders in the team and most of them are leading by example,” said Coach Nelson. “So at this point, we are poised. We are ready to do the best job that we can, maximize our scores, and take care of business.”

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