April 23, 2007

Five Gymnasts Earn All-America Honors in Seattle

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Just as the most actors know the highest honor they could one day win is an Oscar, college athletes know that the greatest individual accolade they can receive is the tag of All-American. Five members of the Red achieved this feat last weekend, capturing All-American honors on Saturday in Seattle.
Senior co-captain Kari Kucera claimed the USAG national title in the floor competition with a brilliant score of 9.875 — her highest ever. Her 9.700 on the beam earned Kucera two All-American titles in the senior’s last ever meet in a Red uniform.
“Kari had the best floor routine of her life, which is a great way to end her gymnastics career,” said sophomore Stacey O’Hara.
Junior Colleen Davis won her third All-America title on the vault and surpassed her personal best score with a 9.625. Sophomore Jennifer Yee, freshman Molly Parker and classmate All-Americans in the bars and floor, respectively.
The Red had its best performance of the season in the first round of the USAG team nationals. The Red’s score of 192.625 and fourth-place overall finish was not enough to move it through the opening round of competition. According to new rules instituted this year, a team needed to place first or second in either of the two groups to move on. Although the Red would have advanced last year, it was not one of the four teams to continue because it was stuck in the same group as home team Seattle Pacific University and a perennial southern power, Texas.
“We were disappointed that with the outcome but we couldn’t have been happier with the way we performed.” O’Hara said.
The Red hit 23-of-24 routines, as Kucera, O’Hara, and freshman Amanda Chirlin each scored above a 9.5 on the beam exercise.
Cornell’s ECAC rival, Towson University, won the team national crown and its star-performer Christina Ghani won three individual All-America titles.
Head coach Paul Beckwith and assistant Melanie Dilliplane were recognized after the tournament as USAG Coaches of the Year.
“Both awards say a lot about our program,” Kucera said. “The team has been getting better over the past couple years due to recruitment in the off-season and constant motivation during the season.”
Seniors Randi Bisbano — who missed most of the year due to injury — and Christina Baez join Kucera as the graduating seniors. All three gymnasts have been instrumental in propelling Cornell from the depths of the ECAC conference to two straight appearances at Nationals.
“The only thing I can say about this year is that every single person on this team deserves the same amount of credit,” Kucera said.