Jan. 8, 2014
PITTSBURGH - The Pitt gymnastics team will open the regular season on Friday with a 7 p.m. meet against Towson at home at Fitzgerald Field House. The Panthers begin the season carrying a preseason predicted finish of third in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League for 2014 in head coach Debbie Yohman's28th season at the helm.
"We're excited to get rolling on 2014, although realistically we'll be starting the season a bit slowly," said Yohman. "We hit a lot of obstacles in the fall with minor injuries that caused missed preparation time but things are coming together finally - we're just not all the way there yet. If things pick up as expected we could be strengthening our lineup with any of the following: Brittney Harris as an all-arounder, Katie O'Rourke back on vault, several sophomores (Tiara Chadran, Jacqueline Lucci, Maebelle Pacheco and Ellie Pikula) who can break into the lineup in select spots on bars and vault. We also have two walk-on freshmen (Kelly Burak and Erika Reichert) who will be strong contributors as specialists.
"We are very grateful to have Haley Bodenheimer returning to action and Lindsay Offuttwho was expected to miss the season," Yohman continued. "It's a group that is potentially stronger than last year's NCAA qualifying squad and third place EAGL team - but we've now got to put that into action out on the floor."
The 2014 squad loses just two from last year's team which advanced to the NCAA Regional meet in Gainesville, Fla. Returning to lead the team are seniors Harris, Maya Ketner, Kori Macdonaldand O'Rourke.
The seniors have led the Panthers to rank third in the preseason poll, voted on by head coaches from the eight head coaches in the conference. Pitt is tied with North Carolina with 37 points behind No. 1 Maryland (five 1st place votes) with 62 points and NC State in second with 58 points (three 1st place votes).
Also returning from Pitt's 2013 squad are sophomores Laura Kummerle, Lindsay Offutt, Nicole Pearson and Lisa Soto and junior all-arounder Haley Sedgewick. Also re-joining the team after sitting out last season with an injury is 2012 EAGL Rookie of the Year Haley Bodenheimerwho has competed beam in preseason and is beginning the road back on floor exercise.
Towson is coming off their first season back in the EAGL since 2004. The Tigers finished eighth in the 2013 conference meet.
Complete EAGL Preseason Poll
1. University of Maryland – 62 Points (5 First-Place Votes)
2. North Carolina State University – 58 Points (3 First-Place Votes)
3. TIE: University of North Carolina & University of Pittsburgh – 37 Points
5. University of New Hampshire – 36 Points
6. George Washington University – 29 Points
7. Rutgers University – 20 Points
8. Towson University – 9 Points
TENTATIVE Pitt Lineup
VAULT - Sedgewick, Reichert, Pikula, Pearson, Harris, Pacheco, exh. Ketner
BARS - Pearson, Sedgewick, Offutt, Soto, Ketner, Harris, exh. Pacheco
BEAM - Harris, Sedgewick, Burak, Offutt, Kummerle, O'Rourke, exh. Bodenheimer
FLOOR - Reichert, Burak, Sedgewick, Offutt, O'Rourke, Bodenheimer/Harris/Ketner/Pacheco/Pearson
Panthers Head to Happy Valley for Dual with Penn State
Gymnastics' Pikula Embraces Her Return to the Sport
Panthers Earn Season-Best 194.725 at George Washington
Panthers Travel to Washington DC for Five-Team Meet
Pearson Named EAGL Specialist of the Week
Offutt Named Gymnastics Director of Operations