Nov. 18, 2013
Pitt head coach Debbie Yohman announced the signing of three National Letters of Intent for the Pitt gymnastics squad, set to join the team in the fall of 2014. Joining the Panthers will be Dani Hall from Clarksburg, Md., Maegan Higdon of Katy, Texas, and Taylor Laymon of High Point, N.C.
“We are very excited about the class we have just signed,” said head coach Debbie Yohman. “We’ve been watching these gymnasts for a long time and are looking forward to working with them. All three come from high level programs with high level coaching and we have strong ties with all three. So we feel confident we are getting strong, disciplined, coachable athletes.”
Hall comes to Pitt from Clarksburg High School and trains at Hillis Gymnastics in Gaithersburg, Md., under Kelli Hill. She is a third-year level 10 gymnast, but missed the 2013 season due to injury. Hall is the daughter of Kerry and Miriam Hall and has younger sister, Camryn and an older brother, Alex.
“Dani is a work horse,” said Yohman. “She has had to develop a slightly different skill set because at one time she was working with back limitations. But her back is healthy, the skills work for her, and she is looking forward to a great year of competition. She really does not have a weak event. We liked her coachability and attention to detail.”
Higdon currently trains at Stars Gymnastics Training Center in Houston under Debbie Kaitchuck and Dan Baker and attends Cinco Ranch High School. Higdon also previously trained at Brandy Johnsons in Clermont, Fla. She is a third-year level 10, winning the 2012 Texas level 10 state bar championship and was a 2012 NIT qualifier placing second on the vault and fourth in the all-around. Higdon is the daughter of Paul and Stephanie Higdon.
“Maegan was, relatively speaking, a later recruit for us,” stated Yohman. “She missed a crucial competitive season and was overlooked by schools, but we watched her in her comeback – she was strong, conditioned, ready to go and her skills came back easily. She is a very ambitious gymnast in terms of what she wants to accomplish and we are very confident that she will make it happen. Maegan is a great all-arounder but will definitely be noticed on vault and floor.”
Laymon trains at High Point Gymnastics in High Points, N.C., under Rob Travers, Buddy Thorburn, Jenna Squires and Beth Martin. The home-schooled student is a fourth-year level 10 gymnast. In 2013, she won the bars title and placed third on the floor at the IGI Chicago Style meet. In 2012, Laymon was an NIT qualifier and bar champion placing second in the all-around. In 2011, she was a J.O. National qualifier and a Region 8 regional runner up on beam while placing third on floor. She is the daughter of Brad and Terry Laymon and has an older sister, Leilani and a brother, Joshua.
“Taylor is the tiny one of the group,” said Yohman. “She’s the type of athlete who loves to continue learning new skills on everything, she is good and has beautiful lines on all four events. But her bars are awesome, and we expect her to make an immediate impact with a championship caliber bar set.”
The Panthers kick off the 2014 season officially on Jan. 10, 2014 against Towson at home at Fitzgerald Field House. The action is set to begin at 7 p.m. Pitt will see its competition, however, on Dec. 6 at the Blue-Gold Exhibition meet at Kent State at 7 p.m.