We have to start out this week’s recap with D2 Texas Women’s enormous 196.000 and victory over THREE D1 teams. That 196 is by far the highest score of any D2 program this season, and ties the highest score in TWU program history, set back in 2003; quite fitting since it was Alumni Day and the team wore “throwback” velvet leos. #MakeVelvetGreatAgain?
The Pioneers had the highest team total on vault with a 48.9, led by a 9.85 by Schyler Jones and a 9.825 by Katie Simpson. TWU recorded three 9.825s on bars by Jenna Cashmore, Taylor Vincent, and Hunter Vincent. Jones posted a huge 9.9 on beam, with Simpson right behind her with a 9.85. Jones also recorded a 9.85 on floor, along with teammate Erin Alderman. Both of TWU’s all-arounders scored over 39, with Jones at a 39.225, and Simpson with a 39.175.
We talk a lot about big scores and program records in these articles, and deservedly so. But what about the teams that go unmentioned? I love cheering for the underdogs. I think it probably has something to do with the fact that I’ve been an “underdog” my whole life. In the world of Division II and Division III, where few to no athletic scholarships are given, the vast majority of athletes are competing for the love of their sport. Many of them compete against D1 teams all the time knowing that they will lose. Others compete within their own conference knowing that they will lose. And yet, they persist. They go out there, they give it their all, and that to me demonstrates a special kind of determination.
My first underdog shoutout goes to D2 Seattle Pacific. While they have been hovering towards the bottom of the D2 rankings, they have killer vaults. In fact, they have two gymnasts in the top 5 on vault: Ariana Harger and Darian Burns, and as a team, they are ranked second overall in D2, behind TWU. Nationally, they are currently tied at #47, ahead of SIXTEEN Division I teams.
Most improved underdog goes to Rhode Island College, which posted a season high 179.350 this weekend, improving four points on the season average. The team is led by sophomore Allie DiBiase, who posted team highs on bars (8.725), and floor (9.425). Sophomore Kyndel Yett led the Anchorwomen on vault with a 9.4, while freshmen Violet Pinola and Grace Davis posted a 9.375 and a 9.325 on beam, respectively.
You will notice that all of the above names are underclassmen. RIC is a very young team (18/24 lineup spots are being competed by freshmen or sophomores), still trying to build a legacy that was almost eliminated indefinitely in 2011 when the program was cut, but then reinstated due to community outcry and support. Their assistant coach is former Bridgeport standout and Spanish Olympian Monica Mesalles, and in the past two seasons she’s been there, RIC has added many big scores and teetered on the edge of program records. And yes, I have a soft spot in my heart for RIC, because I was there in 2011 when the program was cut, and I went back again in 2012 to get to compete my senior year.
One of my favorite underdogs is Gustavus Adolphus, who has blown me away in the past two or three seasons with the progress they have made. Last week they scored the second highest score in program history, 186.725 at a tri-meet with two D1 teams, Iowa State and Illinois State. Teams like Gustavus are happy to compete in meets where they are nine points away from the first place team, because hitting their routines for the second highest score in program history sure feels like a win to them.
The team is coached by Aryn (Bell) DeGrood, who was a GAC graduate in 2009 and has really helped the program turn a corner. I have a lot of respect for young coaches who are doing big things on the NCAA scene (Springfield coach Jenn Najuch also comes to mind). The Gusties’ star is Alex Kopp. Her name appears everywhere on their individual records sheet. She holds the floor record with a 9.85, and the top two AA records: 38.525 and 38.1. Kopp led the Gusties on three of four events at their last meet.
Finally, there’s Hamline. I am always impressed with how big of a roster Hamline is always able to field. They have 26 athletes on their roster and 15 that competed at the last meet. They have scored as high as 186.75 this season but have otherwise hovered in the 182-184 range. Vault is their strongest and most consistent event, and they are ranked 8th overall in Division III. At their last meet, they were led by strong performances by Sydney Tribbett on vault (9.475) and floor (9.65), Cate Reynolds on bars (9.25), and Meghan Webb on beam (9.35).
We’ll see a lot of shake up in the rankings this week, as they are now ordered by Regional Qualifying score (RQS). To obtain the RQS, the high score is eliminated and the remaining five scores are averaged. Teams with a “0.0” RQS have not yet competed enough meets to compute an RQS.
D2 All-Around Standings
|1||Majesta Valentine||West Chester||39.075||1||—|
|2||Bria Northrup||Texas Woman’s||38.790||4||+2|
|3||Schyler Jones||Texas Woman’s||38.680||3||—|
|5||Katie Simpson||Texas Woman’s||37.910||8||+3|
D2 Vault Standings
|1||Schyler Jones||Texas Woman’s||9.810||3||+2|
|3||Ariana Harger||Seattle Pacific||9.780||1||-2|
|4||Darian Burns||Seattle Pacific||9.770||4||—|
|5||Katie Simpson||Texas Woman’s||9.755||14||+9|
D2 Bars Standings
|1||Jenna Cashmore||Texas Woman’s||9.755||2||+1|
|3||Bria Northrup||Texas Woman’s||9.745||6||+3|
D2 Beam Standings
|2||Majesta Valentine||West Chester||9.795||2||—|
D2 Floor Standings
|2||Majesta Valentine||West Chester||9.860||2||—|
|Erin Alderman||Texas Woman’s||9.820||5||+2|
D3 All-Around Standings
|1||Eboni Jackson||Winona State||37.740||6||+5|
|4||Allie DiBiase||Rhode Island||35.590||23||+19|
D3 Vault Standings
|4||Dani Barmore||La Crosse||9.490||16||+12|
D3 Bars Standings
|1||Megan Fayler||Eau Claire||9.465||13||+12|
|3||Haruka Hasebe||Winona State||9.375||35||+32|
D3 Beam Standings
|2||Eboni Jackson||Winona State||9.545||12||+10|
|3||Kari Willett||La Crosse||9.495||17||+14|
|4||Haruka Hasebe||Winona State||9.480||29||+25|
D3 Floor Standings
|2||Elsa Spitzmueller||La Crosse||9.655||6||+4|
|4||Eboni Jackson||Winona State||9.645||17||+13|
|5||Kari Willett||La Crosse||9.595||13||+8|
Article by Sarah Keegan