PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Brown University gymnastics and wrestling are set to host their fourth annual combined meet at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Sunday at noon with both programs more excited than ever to compete alongside one another and in front of the enthusiastic crowd that the event brings year after year.
Gymnastics head coach Sara Carver-Milne and wrestling head coach Todd Beckerman partnered to bring the event to the Brown campus for the first time in 2015. In year one, gymnastics won its quad meet against Bridgeport, Rhode Island College, and the University of Rhode Island while wrestling defeated Sacred Heart. The event has become a staple of the winter sports calendar on College Hill ever since.
"It is a unique event that we are fortunate to be able to do because we have a wrestling team here that is excited to compete alongside us," Carver-Milne said. "Not all schools have gymnastics and wrestling so it is a special opportunity."
The energy from the spectators has created an atmosphere that has made it a no brainer for the programs to continue the tradition.
"We love this event. It's always jam-packed, and the students are back from winter break," Beckerman said. "When you start getting emails from people that you haven't heard from in a while that want to know when the event is, it just shows where it has come."
Gymnastics senior Regan Butchness (Barrington, Ill.) has competed in the event in all three years, including scoring a 9.800 on beam at the 2016 edition of the competition. After not knowing what to expect out of the event as a freshman, she has come to embrace the total experience.
"Competing alongside wrestling is a great opportunity for us," Butchness said. "The first year we had the event it really exceeded my expectations, and the event's reputation has really grown. People get really excited for the two-for-one athletic experience."
Wrestling senior Justin Staudenmayer (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) has wrestled in the event twice and posted a 3-0 record with wins over Sacred Heart, Harvard, and Roger Williams. For him, the environment defines the event.
"It's a great event. There is nothing like competing in a huge environment," Staudenmayer said. "Just hearing everyone yelling, whether it is for the gymnasts on the floor or the wrestlers on the mat, it is awesome to be a part of that environment."
Wrestling junior CJ LaFragola (Little Egg Harbor, N.J.) competed in the event for the first time last season and has enjoyed the distinctive nature of the competition.
"It's such a unique experience to be a part of," LaFragola said. "It's two totally different perspectives from two different sports, but they actually come together rather nicely. When the two sports come together, it makes for a pretty cool spectacle."
Gymnastics freshman Caroline Warren (Pawleys Island, S.C.) will experience the event for the first time on Sunday and has heard only positive reviews from her teammates.
"I've heard that it is a really great opportunity for fans and spectators to get out there and support these two incredible athletic teams," Warren said. "It is supposed to be high energy and a lot of fun. We are looking forward to putting on a big show for everybody."
This year's event showcases the gymnastics team in a tri-meet with Bridgeport and Rhode Island College while wrestling will take on Ivy League opponent Princeton after facing Penn in a dual meet on Saturday at noon.
"The environment is extremely special," Carver-Milne said. "There is a lot of excitement on the floor and in the stands. That alone helps all of the athletes."
Both programs will look to feed off the crowd to propel them to top performances.
"We need to feed off that crowd. If we can pack the Pizzitola on Sunday, that will really help us win," Beckerman said.
With an event that only comes once a year, the Bears will look to excite their supporters with their athletic talents and hope to send the crowd out of the gym on the heels of victories on both ends of the floor.