The Gustavus Adolphus College gymnastics team will open its 2006 season this Saturday with a dual meet at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. Coach Kris Glidden is working with a lot of fresh, new faces this year and she is excited about the enthusiasm and potential of this young group. Glidden and her team will use the dual meet season to prepare for the post-season, which begins with the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) Regional Meet on March 3 and concludes with the NCGA National Championships on March 24-25.
The team has been working very hard in the gym since late October building strength and developing new skills on the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. A change in the scoring format for the 2006 season has led the team to concentrate on developing new routines. An adjustment in the points awarded for various skills will force the gymnasts to work hard to add more difficult skills to their routines. Many skills that earned bonus points last year will be considered basic skills in 2006. As a result, Glidden feels that the individual event and team scores will be lower at the start of the season while teams adjust to the new scoring values assigned by the judges.
The 2006 Gustavus gymnastics team will build around four returning gymnasts that qualified for the NCGA Championships last year. That group includes senior Ashley Erickson, juniors Nicole Gergen and Brittany Moore, and sophomore Danielle Berg. Erickson, who qualified for the national meet on the uneven bars, will be traveling abroad in January, but will re-join the team in February. Gergen, who has qualified for nationals in both the balance beam and the floor exercise for each of the past two years, will be a top performer in those two events again this year. Moore, who won the vault at the NCGA Region meet last March, went on to finish 11th at the NCGA Championships. She will enter the season as one of the top vaulters in the country. Berg completed a successful first year by qualifying for the national meet on the vault. She competed in every meet for the Gusties last season and averaged 8.98 per vault.
On the vault, Coach Glidden will look to the trio of Moore, Berg, and senior Danielle Abel. Abel competed in every meet for the Gusties last year and finished with an average of 8.90. The rest of the vault lineup will be filled from a large group of first year performers which includes Christine Askham, Jennifer Berglund, Jessica Dolan, Laura Hansen, Meghan Johnson, Catherine Osterhaus, Emily Pickford, Jaime Tsurasaki, and Nicole Vogler.
On the uneven bars, the team returns seniors Danielle Abel and Ashley Erickson, juniors Stephanie Berglund, Stephanie Lovik, and Audrey Schenewerk, and sophomore Kasey Lyng. However, Erickson, Berglund, Lovik and Lyng will be gone for January, so Glidden will look to Abel and Schenerwerk to lead a talented group of newcomers through the first month of the season. The newcomers on bars include Christine Askham, Laura Hansen, and Emily Pickford.
On the balance beam, the Gusties will need to replace graduated seniors Amanda Parker, Katie Balcom, and Caren Carlstedt. Two-time national qualifier Nicole Gergen will be the Gusties top performer. Gergen, who recorded a season high score of 9.375 at the NCGA Championships last March, will be joined by Dana Ryerson, a junior who competed in every meet last season and compiled an average score of 8.52. Others expected to contribute on the beam include newcomers Catherine Osterhaus, Laura Hansen, and Jaime Tsurusaki.
On floor exercise, Glidden returns veterans Gergen and Lovik, however as mentioned above, Lovik will be gone until February. As a result, the team will look to an enthusiastic group of newcomers to fill the openings. That group includes Christine Askham, Catherine Osterhaus, and Emily Pickford.
Glidden is taking a big picture view of the season. She stated, “We want to improve each meet with the hopes of peaking at the NCGA Regional in early March. It will take a while for our newcomers to adjust to college gymnastics, but I am confident we will be ready to perform at our best at the NCGA Regional Meet.”