Eight West Chester University gymnasts competed in the 2015 USA Gymnastics Collegiate Nationals held inside the Palestra at the University of Pennsylvania Campus on Friday evening. The eight competing ladies consisted of Majesta Valentine, Selena Swanger, Rachel Blair, Meghan Brannon, Alyssa Hult, Lindsay Knapp, Cassandra Ringer and Madison Brent. This year marks the most number of individuals ever to qualify from head coach Barbara Cordova’s squad.
The preliminary round began on Friday, April 10 at 2p.m. The first to compete out of the Lady Rams was Majesta Valentine, Madison Brent, Meghan Brannon, and Lindsay Knapp, hoping to make West Chester history.
Valentine, who competed in the NCAA Division I Morgantown Regional the weekend prior, returned to USAG Nationals for the second time as an all-around competitor. The sophomore scored a 9.65 in her floor exercise routine, which tied her for sixteenth. She showcased her best score on the vault where she landed a score of 9.725 and tied for seventh place. Valentine also scored a 9.525 on the uneven bars to place twenty-fourth and had a 9.050 to finish twenty-sixth on the balance beam. In the all-around, she finished eleventh overall with a score of 37.950.
Brent, a freshman from Waxhaw, North Carolina, competed the floor exercise for the first time in her career as a Lady Ram at the USAG Nationals. She tumbled her way to a solid 9.50 on the floor exercise placing twenty-fourth on the event.
Junior Meghan Brannon, from Seminole, Florida, returned to the USAG Nationals stage for a third time on the uneven bars. Brannon, who was named ECAC Specialist of the Year on uneven bars, swung her way to an outstanding 9.70 in the competition.
Junior teammate Lindsay Knapp also returned to the USAG Nationals stage for the second time in her career as a Golden Ram on the balance beam, but would make her debut on the floor exercise. She finished twenty-second on the balance beam with a score of 9.425. She also posted a 9.2 on the floor exercise.
The second preliminary round began on Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m. The remaining four Lady Rams to compete in this round were Rachel Blair, Selena Swanger, Alyssa Hult, and Cassandra Ringer.
Swanger made her first appearance as an all-around competitor at the USAG Nationals and returned to the vault for her second year in a row. She tied for twentieth on the vault with a score of 9.575. The sophomore was twenty-seventh on the uneven bars with a 9.25 while scoring a 9.325 on the balance beam to finish twenty-third. Swanger scored a 9.40 on the floor exercise to place twenty-fourth. In the all-around, she registered a 37.55 to finish fifteenth.
Rachel Blair, from Telford, Pennsylvania, headed to the USAG Nationals to compete on the vault as a freshman of the Lady Rams gymnastics team. She scored a 9.45 on the event and placed twenty-seventh.
Junior teammate Alyssa Hult competed in her first appearance at the USAG Nationals qualifying on the uneven bars and the floor exercise. Hult scored a 9.25 on the uneven bars and a 9.2 on the floor exercise in her two performances at the Palestra.
Fifth-year senior, Cassandra Ringer, also made her first appearance as she competed for the Rams on the balance beam. Ringer rounded out her gymnastics career with an 8.800 performance on the event.
“I am so proud of these girls and all of their accomplishments this season,” WCU head coach Barbara Cordova said. “The entire gymnastics team did an outstanding job all winter, and they have raised the bar for future gymnasts at West Chester University.”
This USAG Nationals competition rounded out the end of the competition season for the WCU Gymnastics team. Overall the team had an extremely successful winter season breaking five individual records and four team records. The team also landed sixteen girls on the ECAC Academic team and ten girls are represented as USA Gymnastics Scholar-Athletes. The West Chester Gymnastics team looks to continue their momentum in the 2016 season.
Lauren Bilenki is a fourth-year student majoring in accounting and finance. She can be reached at LB759145@wcupa.edu.