Teams: UC Davis vs. San Jose State; vs. Alaska Anchorage
Where: The Pavilion
When: Sunday at 2 p.m.
Who to watch: Senior co-captain Stacey Nicolini is jumping back in the competition after sitting out last season due to injuries.
Before her injury plagued 2010 campaign, the Novato, Calif. native earned the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation vault title as a freshman. This season, Nicolini is coming back in the best shape of her collegiate career, ready to reclaim her place as one of the team’s top overall performers.
Did you know? The Aggies are bringing back their alumni to support them in their opening meet of the season.
Preview: Putting the powder on their hands and wrapping the tape on their wrists, this year’s gymnastics team is ready to bring on the competition.
“They trained very hard and very smartly to start the season,” said coach John Lavallee, 2010 West Region Coach of the Year. “It’s a tribute to the athletes’ dedication and determination to take the next step forward.”
UC Davis’ goal this season is to improve its impressive stats from a season ago.
“Last year was a coming-of-age moment for the entire program,” said Lavallee said. “We understood that we could go out on the floor with any team in the country, do what we do and do it well, and be a respectable team.”
Despite losing five celebrated seniors, this year’s team carries a large freshman class and a wealth of experienced returnees.
Among these returnees are seniors Michele Hurlock and Marcy Miller, junior Erika Van Dyke and sophomore Katie Yamamura. All four athletes had strong seasons in the past and were awarded with an All-MPSF honor.
With the addition of strong incoming talent to build upon an already stellar roster, the Aggies have high expectations for the upcoming campaign.
“In reality, this team is stronger than last year’s team in many ways,” Lavallee said. “We graduated a lot of firepower in the 2010 class but we’ve been able to replace it.”
During the team’s annual December intrasquad meet, Lavallee saw the true potential in his 2011 squad.
“We saw a lot of gamers, a lot of people who could step up their performance for a competition,” Lavallee said. “When you combine that ability with the preparation and hard work this team puts in, that’s a great recipe for success.”
– Caleigh Guoynes