On April 5, the West Chester University gymnastics team traveled across the country to Seattle, Wash. to participate in the USA Collegiate National Championships.
These ladies will go down in history as the first team to qualify for nationals since 1983. Throughout the years, West Chester has sent at most 10 individuals to compete at the collegiate championships, and now West Chester competed in the semifinals for a chance to compete in the team finals, as well as event finals. The event took place April 6-9 at Seattle Pacific University.
Before nationals, West Chester was in eighth place out of the nine teams competing. Competing teams included Lindenwood University, Air Force Academy, University of Bridgeport, Cornell University, West Chester University, Brown University, Texas Women’s University, Seattle Pacific University and Yale University.
The Golden Rams competed in the first semifinal competition against Bridgeport, Air Force and Cornell.
Starting off strong on beam, the team scored a 48.55. Meghan Chan started the competition for West Chester, scoring a 9.6 along with teammate Cassie Hageman. Rose Wortman scored a 9.625. Selena Swanger scored 9.7, Sarah Boyd a 9.775, tying for seventh, and also earning Second Team All-America on the event and Majesta Valentine scored a 9.85, tying for third.
In the second rotation, West Chester also scored a 48.55 on floor. Kristen Torres started the event off with a solid routine earning her a 9.625 on the event along with teammate Emily Loughery. Hageman had an uncharacteristic fall scoring a 9.1, Madi Brent scored a 9.75, Swanger earned a 9.725, and Valentine a 9.825 tying for ninth.
Going into the third event, West Chester was in second place behind Bridgeport, but finished the competition in third no longer in the running for team finals.
For the third rotation on vault, Torres once again started the line up with a spectacular vault scoring 9.65, Rachel Blair a 9.5, Sam Engle a 9.575, Swanger and Lindsey Mathis a 9.7 tying for eighth and Valentine a 9.75, tying for fifth, finishing with a team score of 48.375.
Throughout the season, the team has struggled on the last event, bars, but that did not show at nationals.
The bar line-up showed the audience what West Chester is about, finishing with a team score of 48.05 on the event. Swanger started the event off, earning a 9.125. Jordan Miranda earned a 9.6, her high score of the season. Bella D’Orazio scored a 9.475, Mathis a 9.525, Myranda Marshall a 9.675 and Valentine finished the competition with a 9.775, tying for second on the event.
The team finished with an overall score of 193.525, the team’s highest away score of the season.
Valentine finished with an all-around score of 39.2 and qualified for event finals on bars, beam and vault, earning her All-America certificates for the weekend. In the individual finals, Valentine tied for eighth on vault with a 9.75, tied for seventh on bars with a 9.775 and tied for fourth on beam with a 9.825, also earning Second Team All-America on floor.
Additional honors include Valentine earning National Senior Gymnast of the Year, which is given to the highest scoring senior at the event. Coach Barbara Cordova earned the Ken Anderson Head Coach of the Year, on top of her ECAC Coach of the Year Award this past March. Sherri Missimer was also honored with Assistant Coach of the Year Award.
When Cordova first started working the program at West Chester, the team was averaging a 180 team score. This season, the team averaged a 193 team score and has proven their abilities to compete at the national level. Together, Cordova and Missimer have created a team that can compete with the best of the best, which is proven in the three wins over Division I programs throughout this past season.
When asked about how the team did this season, Cordova responded with, “I could not be more proud of this team! They had a record-breaking season and topped it off with qualifying to USA Collegiate Nationals as a team. They hit one of their best meets of the season; they counted no falls and were definitely one of the teams to be noticed. They came in ranked eighth but finished in sixth, just barely missing out on the team final. This team put their hearts on the mat all season long, and it paid off!”
Meghan Chan is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at MC827361@wcupa.edu.