Jan. 4, 2012
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With the 2012 gymnastics season set to begin Sunday in Morgantown as part of a tri-meet against No. 13 Penn State and West Virginia, the Terps are hoping to continue the success from last season in which the team captured the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) regular-season championship and registered 23 wins, the most since 1999 (29).
With two first-team All-EAGL performers returning and the addition of six talented freshmen, head coach Brett Nelligan feels this is his deepest team since becoming head coach prior to the 2010 season.
"This is the most depth we've ever had for sure," said Nelligan. "It's probably one of the most talented teams as well. We have tons of talent, but we have to see how we do when we get out there and perform."
The Terps will feature two seniors, three juniors and 11 underclassmen. With leadership from the upperclassmen and an infusion of young talent, Nelligan believes the Terps can replace the production of first-team All-EAGL performer Abigail Adams and second-team All-EAGL member Jennifer Iovino.
"It's never easy to replace such a dominate all-arounder in Adams, but we've brought in a lot of talented freshmen," said Nelligan. "Some of the seniors and juniors are stepping up to fill that role as well."
The Terps should showcase their depth on the vault where 11 Terrapins could earn competition time. Junior Ally Krikorian, who took top honors on the vault at the 2011 EAGL Championships, will lead the Terps, while sophomore Katy Dodds and senior Kyra Phillips round out a talented trio.
Dodds earned first-team All-EAGL honors on the vault last season and Phillips earned second-team honors while scoring a 9.700 or higher in the final 10 meets.
Junior Kesley Cofsky competed on the vault in all 13 meets last season and will most likely see action this season. Junior Briana Melander and sophomore Ebony Walters will also factor into the rotation.
On the uneven bars, Cofsky and sophomore Karen Tang should be major contributors. Cofsky placed 15th at the NCAA Athens Regional last April. Tang did not compete as a freshman in 2011, but won the 2010 Massachusetts Level 10 State Championship and placed second at the Region 6 Level 10 Championships.
Maryland will be looking to improve its performance on the balance beam this winter. The Terps averaged a 48.352 on the beam last season, the lowest of the four events.
Manzi and Melander should improve that average. Manzi competed on the beam in all 13 events in 2011 and scored a 9.725 or higher in six of the final eight meets. Melander missed last season due to injury, but scored a 9.700 or higher in five meets her freshman season.
The floor was Maryland's second strongest event last season and the Terps possess a strong core to continue to have success. Dodds, Krikorian and Phillips all placed in the top-30 at the EAGL Championships last season, and Cofsky tied for 12th at the NCAA Athens Regional.
Tang, the 2009 Level 10 Junior Olympic champion, will vie for a spot in the rotation along with Walters.
Cofsky and Krikorian will be in the running for the all-around title at the EAGL Championships. Cofsky earned second-team All-EAGL honors in the all-around in 2011 placing 13th at the championship meet. Krikorian qualified for the all-around in two meets last season and averaged a score of 38.113.
Adding to the Terrapin coaching staff's arsenal are six highly regarded freshmen. Elizabeth Garcia finished in the top-5 on the vault, bars and floor, and placed third in the all-around at the 2010 Level 10 Region 6 Championships. Garcia could see action on the bars this season.
Stephanie Giameo, the 2011 New Jersey vault champion, placed ninth in the all-around at the 2011 Level 10 Junior Nationals and will compete for a spot on the vault, beam and floor.
The 2011 Maryland Gymnast of the Year, Emily Heller, is a four-time Level 10 regional qualifier and 2009 Maryland Level 10 floor champion. The Belcamp, Md., native is slated for the vault and floor.
Dani Kram, a six-time Level 10 regional qualifier, may see action on the vault and floor, and Shannon Skochko, a Pennsylvania AA Level 9 champion on the vault, beam and floor, will compete for a spot on the vault and beam.
Nicole Wright rounds out the class. Wright will compete for time on the vault and on the floor. The Yorktown, Va., native won the 2009 Virginia Level 10 championship.
After traveling to Morgantown this weekend, the Terps open their home slate against EAGL-rival Pittsburgh on Friday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m.