Photo Credits: JUSTIN HAN / AGGIE
Hebert continues to shine in victory
It isn’t everyday that you see coveted leadership roles in Division I sports taken up by a sophomore athlete, but sophomore gymnast all-arounder Kelley Hebert found herself in a position to take up one of those roles this year. Her performance propelled the UC Davis gymnastics team to victory against San Jose State at The Pavilion last Friday, 195.050 to 193.250.
Hebert took first place in vault, tied for first place on the balance beam and on the floor and edged out Taylor Chan of SJSU for the individual all-around. Sophomores Kyla Kessler and Sarah Liddle tied for first on the uneven bars with 9.850 and sophomore Alyssa Ito took third with 9.800.
“We all really had a goal, even though everything didn’t go the way we wanted, we kept fighting through the meet and ended up with a really good score,” Hebert said.
Despite stellar individual performances recently, with Hebert posting a season high in the Aggies’ meet against New Hampshire and an individual all around title and floor exercise title against Alaska Anchorage, the Aggies have not had as many team wins.
“I was really focused on the details of this meet,” Hebert said, pointing out that there were little things from previous meets she wanted to fix.
After helping her team place second in a six team field in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship, Hebert was named the MPSF Gymnast of the Year. She then went on to qualify for the individual NCAA regional tournament along with Alexis Brown, now graduated.
While not officially a captain, the all arounder has posted consistent scores and has so far been named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Gymnast of the Week six times. She also has the highest floor average on the team with 9.853.
The floor exercise is the event in which gymnasts are arguably best able to let their personality shine through. This is readily apparent especially given that a video of UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi went viral earlier this year with a seemingly effortless yet, energized floor routine that garnered a perfect score.
The floor is Hebert’s time to shine and the event she is most confident in.
“Every time I go to floor, I have a sense of calm over me and I get into the event and it’s fun for me,” Hebert said. “As soon as I start, I have a giant smile on my face and it carries through the rest of the routine. My nerves are kind of put to the side.”
The Aggies’ lineup last year featured more freshman than usual, and that class is continuing to contribute this year in a big way, according to Head Coach John Lavallee. The way the lineup played out last year required them to compete.
“Every class had a different experience, for last year’s freshman class, we didn’t have a lot of those spots [filled],” Lavallee said. “And they were out there whether they wanted to or not.”
This provided Hebert a chance to prove herself as an asset to the team, and this year she has continued to improve.
“I actually felt, the pressure in the preseason of living up to last year, it was really getting to me,” Hebert said. “It took a lot of mental training to calm that down. I had to start this year with a fresh mindset and I incorporated an entire new bar routine.”
And Hebert is eager to mentor her other teammates.
“Last year I was looking up to people on the team,” Hebert said. “This year I wanted to be able to be someone who my teammates could look up to.”
With such a young team, Lavallee says there is some developing to be done.
“Having to perform at a higher level every week to get in the lineup, it’ll help them in the offseason to know what level they’ll need to be at,” Lavallee said.
Lavallee said one of the team’s goals is to qualify for the NCAA postseason and so far he thinks things are going well, but nothing is set in stone yet.
UC Davis will make a quick trip across the Causeway to square off against Sacramento State tomorrow before returning home to finish the regular season with two home meets in early March.
Written by: Bobby John — firstname.lastname@example.org