Women’s gymnastics team prepares for upcoming Nationals
Katherine G. Krajcik – Special to the Southern News
After setting a new school record for overall team score, the women’s gymnastics program is full steam ahead on trying to qualify for Nationals as an entire team.
Senior Jenny Kaufman, a four-year team member and individual National qualifier on the vault and floor events last year, is looking to qualify again this year, but more importantly with her entire squad.
“I believe that this is one of our strongest years in the program’s history,” said Kaufman, “and we all know what we are capable of doing as a team [this year].”
Qualifying for the National Championship starts with trying to re-break the record they just set at their last meet in Providence, R.I. against Brown University, The University of New Hampshire and The University of Bridgeport.
“We [had] mistakes and falls and still managed to beat the school record. Without counting falls, we can easily surpass our school record [again],” Kaufman said.
Prior to setting the new record of 191.625, it was 191.45, which was set at the 2013 ECAC Championships.
“We were all so happy and screaming in celebration,” said Kaufman. “After a rocky competition [the week prior], this meet definitely brought more confidence to our team.”
According to Southern’s athletic website, Kaufman tied senior Samantha Menichini for the Owls’ highest vault score with a 9.675 at the Providence meet.
Kaufman has had a very strong career as an Owl and is still improving in her senior year.
Earlier in the season, she was honored by the ECAC with Gymnastics Coaches’ Choice of the Week following her performance in New Brunswick, N.J.
Following that performance, she scored her career high on vault with a score of 9.85 at a home meet against Yale University, Rhode Island College and The University of Bridgeport.
When asked to describe Kaufman in one word, fellow senior Meghan Cole, who also qualified for Nationals individually last year, said, “determined.”
“You see her giving 110 percent in the gym,” said Cole, “and she is always pushing her teammates to be better and to reach for their goals.”
Head Coach Jerry Nelson agrees and would describe Kaufman as “committed.”
“Like everyone else in college, she carries a heavy schedule, but she gets it all done. She’s a great leader and a great scholar athlete,” Nelson said.
Cole and Coach Nelson also agree that the one major improvement that they have seen in Kaufman’s performances over the past four years is confidence.
“She has the ability to hit a set on the vault with very few flaws,” Nelson said.
Cole added that Kaufman is really showing off her skills this season.
“She has gained a lot more confidence, pays attention to little details, and is just having a lot of fun in what she does,” Cole said.
To qualify, their highest six scores get averaged, but their highest of the six gets dropped.
If the Owls finish with a final average that is in the top eight in the conference, then they will qualify for the meet.
“We have potential to make it,” Kaufman said, “we just need to get the scores.”