Wildcats prepare for EAGL Championship
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 00:03
On Saturday, the UNH gymnastics team will compete in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Championship, which will be hosted by the University of North Carolina. This event is crucial for the No. 37 Wildcats, who must rank in the Top 36 to qualify for the NCAA Regional Championships.
If the Wildcats succeed in qualifying for the regional tournament, it will be for the 30th time in 31 years. UNH competed at the EAGL championship last season, finishing in sixth place with a final score of 195.225.
The Wildcats are coming off of a second-place finish they earned at a quad-meet held at Kent State on March 15. UNH had two first-place finishers at the meet in sophomore Erika Rudiger and junior Hannah Barile on the floor exercise.
Competition will be very tight for the Wildcats, as fellow league teams will all be competing in hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Regional. No. 33 North Carolina, No. 35 Pittsburgh, No. 37 George Washington, and No. 39 Rutgers are all competing to either make it into or stay in the field of 36. No. 22 Maryland and No. 30 North Carolina State are also competing at the meet, but both of these programs are considered locks for the NCAA event.
UNH competed with George Washington and Rutgers earlier in the season, taking the win over each program. This will be the first meeting of the year for the Wildcats against North Carolina and Pittsburgh.
The Wildcats will be looking to make an early impact in the floor exercise, the team’s strongest event. Barile, senior Austyn Fobes, and sophomore Kayla Gray each rank in the Top 10 in the league in floor exercise. UNH earned a bye from the first round of the floor exercise event.
On the balance beam, UNH is ranked sixth in the league and will be relying heavily on Gray’s recent streak of success on the beam to continue. Gray has earned three consecutive first place scores on the balance beam.
The Wildcats, who lead the league with 16 members on the EAGL All-Academic Team, have won the EAGL Championship once before in 2003 when UNH hosted the event at the Whittemore Center.