PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Brown gymnastics team begins its defense of the Ivy Classic title and prepares to host the USA Gymnastics Nationals when the Bears head to the University of New Hampshire for a quad meet featuring No. 24 Minnesota and Yale on Sunday.
"Last season, we made history by being the first Brown team to qualify for the USAG Collegiate National Championships and for the Team Finals," said Head Coach Sara Carver-Milne, now in her 12th season with the Bears. "Now, having the National Championships here at Brown for the first time offers us an exciting chance to make history again in front of our own fans and supporters."
DEFENSE OF IVY CLASSIC CROWN
Senior Michelle Shnayder (Lincolnshire, Ill.), then a junior, captured the All-Around Championship to pace a historic performance for Brown gymnastics on Feb. 22, 2013, and lead the Bears to the Ivy Classic title at Yale. Brown tallied a 193.925, while Cornell (193.025), Penn (191.600) and Yale (191.100) rounded out the standings.
"We have a tremendous opportunity this season, as defending Ivy Champions, hosting the Ivy Classic Championship at Brown," Carver-Milne said. "In addition to our great fans and families, several alums will be back to support the team as we fight to keep the trophy on campus."
Shnayder, one of four senior captains on this year's squad, looks to secure a second straight Ivy Classic banner when Brown hosts the event on Feb. 23.
"Michelle has proven to be our top all-around competitor in her first three years at Brown," Carver-Milne said. "Her leadership on all four events is key to driving this team to the top again."
SENIOR CAPTAINS LEAD THE WAY
Brown's four seniors, Madeline Benz (Chester, N.J.), Rebecca Freedman (Plainview, N.Y.), Katie Rogers (Bethesda, Md.) and Shnayder have been named captains for the 2014 season.
"Becca and Katie have been posting top scores for the Bears on vault the past three seasons," Carver-Milne said. "They were instrumental in breaking the Brown record on that event several times. Madeline's leadership and determination have kept the team focused. She will be a strong force in the bar line-up this season and will continue to guide the team to success."
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Brown will face familiar foes in UNH and Yale on Sunday, along with the nationally-ranked Gophers of Minnesota.
The Wildcats are one meet deep into the 2014 season after a 195.075-191.750 loss at No. 16 Rutgers. Freshman Kelsey Aucoin placed third on vault (9.775) to pace the squad. UNH took first place both times the Bears and Wildcats met in 2013, including a 195.650 performance by UNH on Jan. 26. The team from Durham, N.H., will look to junior Kayla Gray, who placed fifth on beam at the NCAA Morgantown Regional and won an East Atlantic Gymnastics League beam championship last season.
Coming off a share of the 2013 Big Ten regular season title, Minnesota stands 2-0 on the season after picking up victories over Air Force and Lindenwood (194.425) followed by Washington (196.350). The Gophers, who were tabbed third in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches Poll, are led by sophomore Lindsay Mable, who as a freshman tied for fifth on vault at the NCAA Championships while landing on All-American and All-Big Ten First Teams.
Yale also opens the season on Sunday and aims to improve upon its fifth-place showing at the 2013 ECAC Championship. The Bulldogs roster is highlighted by senior Ashley O'Connor, who won an ECAC Coaches Choice Award on beam, along with sophomore Brittney Sooksengdao, who tied for 16th on vault at last year's USAG Nationals.
Brown heads to No. 16 Rutgers to take on the Scarlet Knights on Friday, Jan. 24.