BROCKPORT, N.Y. – The Ursinus College gymnastics team is headed back to the NCGA Championships.
For the second consecutive season, the Bears finished runner-up at Sunday's NCGA East Championship to book their fifth straight appearance in the national meet. The NCGA team and all-around competition is slated for March 31, with the individual portion to come the following day.
Junior Kaelin Ruoss garnered the individual beam crown with a 9.700 for Ursinus, which tallied a 189.450 to land behind only host Brockport's 191.850. Springfield claimed the final spot in the national meet, placing third with a 188.825.
In addition to their latest team appearance at nationals, seven Bears qualified for the NCGA individual championship – junior Heather Brubaker on the vault; senior Vanessa Scalora, senior Lauren Chavis, and Ruoss on the bars; Ruoss, junior Amanda Palladino, and freshman Skylar Haas on the beam; and junior Alexandra Puryear on the floor. The NCGA accepts the top 10 athletes on each event from each region - five from the SAS (season average score) individual rankings and the top five regional finishers.
Before Sunday's meet, senior Jillian Casarella was honored as the NCGA East Region Gymnast of the Year. Casarella, who suffered a career-ending injury a month ago, ranks fourth in Division III on the beam (9.7125) and tied for 19th on the bars (9.5750). She is the second Ursinus gymnast to claim the award, joining 2015 recipient Kristina Steffenhagen.
The Bears turned in a balanced performance across the four events, scoring a meet-best 47.650 on beam, 47.500 on the floor, 47.450 on n the vault, and 46.650 on the bars.
Brubaker tied for fifth on the vault with a career-best 9.700. Freshman Courtney Pearson recorded a 9.550 to tie for 15th, and the rest of the Ursinus contingent produced matching tallies of 9.400 – freshmen Eleanor LaFountain and Breanna Couts, sophomore Lindsay Rush, and Puryear.
Scalora, last year's regional champion on bars, earned a 9.575 to place fourth overall. Ruoss garnered a 9.375 to finish in a tie for 11th, with Puryear (9.300) in 16th and Rush (9.275) in 17th.
The Bears, as they have been all season, were terrific on the beam. Ursinus accounted for five of the top nine individual finishers, headlined by a 9.700 from Ruoss, who has scored at least that high in three consecutive outings.
Brockport was dominant on the floor, where the Golden Eagles racked up a team tally of 49.050. Puryear was the Bears' top performer, establishing a new career high with a 9.800 that was good for fourth overall. LaFountain came up with her second consecutive 9.625 to finish 15th, and Haas netted a season-best 9.475 to tie for 18th. Fellow rookie Sabrina Tusavitz scored a 9.425 and placed 22nd.
Puryear finished fourth in the all-around competition with an overall total of 37.500.
The gymnastics team will now prepare for the NCGA championships, which will take over Menomonie, Wisconsin in just under two weeks.