Gymnasts prepare for national meet
Matt Gad—Sports Writer
It has been a very strong season for the Owls so far with a number of solid performances, including from freshman Hannah Stahlbrodt, who came away with ECAC Gymnast of the Year – the first Owl to win that award since 2007.
At the ECAC Championships, which took place on March 23 at Bridgeport University, the Owls placed third, bowing to Bridgeport and West Chester, head coach Jerry Nelson took home Coach of the Year, assistant Linda Mullin took home Assistant of the Year and sophomore Jordan Peloquin came away with a win on the beam.
“I was really excited to meet or exceed the beam record so when I hit it I got so excited,” Peloquin said. “It’s great to come into a team and have such a good family environment.”
Peloquin, Tiffany Elliot, Stahlbrodt, Keylea Brothers, Jackie Kutcher, Noely Macias, Morgan Gatewood and Keara Loughlin will also compete in USA Gymnastics Nationals, which starts March 12 and will be hosted by Bridgeport.
“My mindset [going into nationals] is that it’s just muscle memory. I’m just going to go in, do what I know how to do and whatever happens, happens,” Peloquin said.
The participants will compete on the 12th and the event finals will take place on the last day of the meet, March 14, with a team banquet and some other festivities and events mixed into the national championship weekend.
Nelson said that awards and attention the team has gotten recently prove how good the team has performed throughout the year.
“For me to win, but more importantly for Linda to win [assistant] Coach of the Year, just says that the others recognize that we had a good overall season, and for Hannah, too; a great, great accolade,” Nelson said.
On vault, Stahlbrodt was ranked fifth overall, while Kutcher, Girolamo and Brothers led on the bars and Peloquin was finished in sixth on the floor exercise.
Additionally, Girolamo posted one of the top overall scores for the meet.
“I just know that even though we had a couple of bad events, we were able to get a decent score and we all supported each other no matter what happened,” Girolamo said.
The Owls posted a mark of 190.900, while Bridgeport was in front at 195.150 and West Chester finished at 193.200.
Nelson said the ECAC meet showed what areas need be improved upon.
“We had a really good season going in and we had some really good performances at ECACs, but we fell short as a team,” Nelson said. “We didn’t hit as many routines as we would’ve liked, but some of the girls performed very well.”
He said Bridgeport and West Chester have both had scores ahead of the Owls all season long and also have had better meets than Southern did.
Southern’s Gymnastics Team won meets this season at home over Brockport and Rhode Island College and at Springfield over Springfield College and Ithaca College.
The team also had a number of strong finishes in meets over three or four teams, but they fell to Bridgeport at home on March 16 to end the regular season, scoring 192.200 points and trailing the Purple Knights, who won with a mark of 194.425.
“Eight is a good, healthy number [for the national meet] and all eight going have a chance of proving themselves and doing really well,” Nelson said. “They belong there and just need to do what they’ve been doing all year and hit their routines.”
He said the hope is that the individuals perform to the best of their ability, but if they can also do well in the finals they can make an All American team, and that it should also be a goal of theirs to try to achieve that accolade.