The Gustavus gymnastics team opens its 2007 season on Monday, January 8 with a dual meet against UW-Stout in St. Peter. Head Coach Kris Glidden is entering her seventh season at Gustavus with seven seniors on the roster, and will look to them to provide experience. The Gusties will use the dual meets to gain experience and prepare for the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) Regional Meet on March 8 in La Crosse, Wis., and the NCGA National Championships on March 23-24 in Whitewater, Wis.
Gustavus has been preparing for the upcoming season by concentrating on the floor exercise and the uneven parallel bars, where they struggled in last season’s West Regional Meet. A scoring change prior to last season will continue to effect the team as they 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. Therefore, Glidden feels that as the season progresses the individual and team scores will increase as the team gains experience.
This season, the Gusties will look to their three 2006 NCGA National Meet qualifying gymnasts — senior Brittany Moore (Plymouth, Minn.) and sophomores Laura Hansen (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) and Christine Askham (Arvada, Colo.) — to provide leadership. Moore, who is a three-time NCGA National Meet participant, is considered one of the top vaulters in the country. Hansen, who qualified for the national meet in the uneven bars, will be a top contender in the region to qualify once again for the national meet. Askham qualified for the national meet in the floor exercise last year and will also be considered a favorite to repeat her success. Senior Nicole Gergen (Hastings, Minn.), a two-time NCGA National Meet qualifier, is hoping to qualify this season after missing out last season.
Coach Glidden is looking to Askham and Emily Pickford (So., Minnetonka, Minn.) as possible all-around gymnasts for this season. The Gusties did not have an all-around gymnast last season and used specialists for meets. This year, however, Askham and Pickford are ranked in the top eight for each event according to Coach Glidden.
On the vault, three competitors that scored an average over 8.90 last season will lead the Gusties this season. Moore averaged a team-high score of 9.181 last season on the vault while qualifying for the NCGA National Championship Meet. Pickford averaged an impressive 9.067, while her teammate, Danielle Berg was slightly behind at 8.947. Askham, Hansen, Aryn Bell (So., Eden Prairie, Minn.), and Catherine Osterhaus (So., Eagan, Minn.) all produced good scores as freshmen last season and will be looked upon to improve in their second season. Coach Glidden mentioned that Bell has learned a new vault and it will be fun to watch it progress through the season.
On the uneven bars, Coach Glidden will look for leadership from Askham, Hansen, Pickford, Kathleen Ozbun (Sr., St. Cloud, Minn.), and Audrey Schenewerk (Sr., Lawrence, Kan.) as all had average scores of over 8.0 last year. First-year Laurel Urquhart (Great Falls, Mont.) has been performing well in practice and Coach Glidden sees her as one of the top six gymnasts. Kelley Nemec (Maplewood, Minn.) and Amanda Sati (Champlin, Minn.) are newcomers that will also add depth for the Gusties in this category.
On the balance beam, Gergen and Pickford led the team last year with average scores of 8.553 and 8.635, respectively. Askham, Hansen, Osterhaus, Dana Ryerson (Sr., Ames, Iowa), and Jaime Tsurusaki (So., Apple Valley, Minn.) all recorded averages of over 8.0 last season and will be expected to improve as the season progresses.
On the floor exercise, the Gusties are deep with many talented veterans. Askham, Gergen, Moore, Osterhaus, and Kelsey Droogsma (Jr., Elk River, Minn.) all averaged scores over 8.50 last year. Pickford, Kyleen Oleson (Jr., Champlin, Minn.), Stephanie Lovik (Sr., Rochester, Minn.), and newcomers Nemec, Christina Sorenson (Fy., Worthington, Minn.), and Christina Lewis (Fy., Rochester, Minn.) will add depth to an already strong position.
The 2007 squad begins the season relatively healthy. The exceptions are Dana Ryerson, Kathleen Ozbun, and Emily Pickford. Ryerson had off-season knee surgery, Ozbun is also having some knee troubles, and Pickford is battling a few minor injuries. However, Coach Glidden is positive about the outlook on the injury report and stated, “This is a tough group and they will keep pushing themselves.”
With seven seniors on the roster, the Gusties will rely on their experience to carry them this season. Danielle Abel and Ashley Erickson were the only two gymnasts lost to graduation. Coach Glidden said, “I look to this team to be stronger than last year’s. This team has more experience and so the expectations are higher.” The expectation Glidden has for this team is to be in the top four of the conference, but the goal is to be in the top three and qualify for the national meet as a team. When asked how they would achieve this goal Glidden stated, “We will work during the season to become consistent so we can put together four strong events in the conference meet.”